Australia-Iran’s 2021 New Year's radical move and the international game surrounding the nuclear deal – BBC News

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At the beginning of 2021, Iran announced that it would increase the abundance of enriched uranium to 20% and seize a South Korean oil tanker. What is the intention?How is the international reaction to this?How do the experts interpret it?

File photo showing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) inspecting nuclear technology in Tehran (9 April 2019)

The Iranian leader emphasized that if all parties fully resume compliance with the Iran nuclear agreement and lift sanctions on Iran, the uranium enrichment issue will be completely reversible.


Iran's fierce move has attracted continued attention from the international community, but it still maintains a relatively moderate response.


At the same time, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps seized a South Korean flag tanker, accusing it of violating marine environmental laws.

Both of the above actions are related to the 2015 international agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue.

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Uranium enrichment abundance and agreement

The purity of low-enriched uranium is usually 3-5% U-235, which can be used to produce fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.


However, according to the 2015 nuclear agreement, Iran can only extract enriched uranium with a purity of up to 3.67%; and store no more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of material; run no more than 5060 Iranian old and inefficient centrifuges ; And completely stop uranium enrichment in Fordo.

But since Trump came to power, he has withdrawn from what he accused of flaws in the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement and restored US sanctions on Iran.



Experts from the American Arms Control Association said that Iran is currently expressing to produce and store 120 kilograms of enriched uranium with a purity of 20%, which is about half the amount required for a nuclear bomb.

They also warned that the production of highly enriched uranium would pose a more serious short-term proliferation risk.

South Korean oil tanker and sanctions against Iran


The oil tanker incident happened at a time when a certain amount of Iranian funds was frozen in the Bank of Korea because of US sanctions against Iran.And Iran is currently under funding.

After announcing the dispatch of warships, the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that it would send a delegation to Iran as soon as possible to try to resolve the issue through bilateral negotiations.


A handout photo made available by the Tasnim News agency shows Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) jet boats seizing a South-Korean flagged tanker named Hankuk Chemi in Persian Gulf, 04 January 2021.

Because of the U.S. sanctions against Iran, a certain amount of Iranian funds was frozen in the Bank of Korea.Then Iran detained a South Korean oil tanker.


Some experts believe that Iran’s announcement of increased uranium enrichment is an attempt to put pressure on Biden, who will succeed Trump as president on January 1.

Biden has said that as long as Iran resumes full compliance with the agreement and promises to negotiate further, he will consider rejoining the nuclear agreement.




Iranian troops hold Mohsen Fakhrizadeh's coffin at a funeral ceremony in Tehran (30 November 2020)

Iran's parliament passed a law requiring 20% ​​enrichment after the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh

Expert analysis: "bargaining chips"



As a party to the Iranian nuclear agreement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that the current Iranian nuclear issue is at a critical juncture and the situation is complex and sensitive.

She said that China urges all parties to maintain calmness and restraint, adhere to the consensus on maintaining the comprehensive agreement, avoid actions that increase tensions, and leave room for diplomatic efforts and the situation to change.The top priority is that all parties should push the United States to return to the comprehensive agreement as soon as possible and unconditionally, and lift all relevant sanctions, so as to create conditions for pushing the comprehensive agreement back on track.

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