The Iran Crisis, Explained – The New York Times

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2019

A core objective of the 2015 nuclear deal — struck between Iran, the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — was to keep Iran at least one year from being able to construct a nuclear bomb. (Iran insists that its nuclear program it has developed over several decades is for peaceful purposes.)

But that timeline could shorten if Iran follows through on its most recent threats, which it calls a response to American sanctions that Iran says are, well, a deal-breaker. The escalation could precipitate an international crisis and increase the likelihood of a military confrontation.

“I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons,” Mr. Trump told Fox News last month.

The nuclear agreement, which Mr. Trump has called “the worst deal ever” and a “disaster,” placed strict limits on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions on Tehran.

Under the terms of the deal, Iran can stockpile no more than 300 kilograms, or 660 pounds, of so-called low-enriched uranium, a small fraction of what it previously hoarded. To remain under the stockpile limit, Iran has shipped low-enriched uranium out of the country.

In addition, the deal says that Iran can enrich uranium to contain no more than 3.67 percent of an isotope which, in high enough concentration, can produce a mushroom cloud. That limit is in effect until 2030. Critics of the deal call that date too soon.

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