Iran threatens to start enriching uranium again, Trump orders new sanctions

You may vaguely recall that Iran has claimed it never had any bad intent for its uranium enrichment program. So it’s very odd that when the country is upset the threat it resorts to is enriching more uranium. From the BBC:

Iran has suspended commitments under the 2015 international nuclear deal, a year after it was abandoned by the US.

President Hassan Rouhani said he would keep enriched uranium stocks in the country rather than sell them abroad.

He also threatened to resume production of more-highly-enriched uranium in 60 days if other signatories did not act to protect Iran from US sanctions.

The US dropped out of the deal last year and restored sanctions on anyone who does business with Iran. Those sanctions escalated last month to include imports of Iranian oil. Trump has also designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. Today, in response to the Iranian threat, Trump added new sanctions on Iran’s metal exports:

The Trump administration issued new sanctions against Iran on Wednesday targeting its metal exports, hours after the Iranian president threatened to start enriching more uranium if it doesn’t get relief from U.S. measures that are crippling its economy.

The new sanctions included in an executive order signed by President Trump apply to Iranian iron, steel, aluminum and copper.

The measure comes exactly one year after Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear agreement that lifted U.S. and international sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. In the past year, the United States has designated nearly 1,000 Iranian individuals and entities for sanctions and is attempting to drive its oil revenue down to “zero.”

There may be more behind all of this than just the anniversary of the Iran deal withdrawal. As Jazz pointed out this week, a carrier strike group is now on its way to the Middle East after reports that Iran was preparing an attack on US forces:

U.S. officials told ABC News the deployments were in response to “clear indications” Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were preparing for a possible attack against U.S. forces on land, including in Iraq and Syria, and at sea.

On Tuesday, U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) spokesperson Navy Capt. Bill Urban said the command “continues to track a number of credible threat streams emanating from the regime in Iran throughout the CENTCOM area of responsibility.”

Iran is getting desperate and this announcement about enriching uranium is a sign of that desperation. I’d like to hear more about the evidence that Iran was planning an attack on US forces but really it’s not hard to believe. Iran was heavily involved in targeting the US and coalition troops with EFP roadside bombs just over a decade ago. They’ll attack our troops again given the chance. Here’s Iran deal negotiator Javad Zarif noting that the warning about a possible Iranian attack on the U.S. came from Israel. I can’t imagine why but that seems to really upset him.