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Iran Accelerates Uranium Enrichment to 60%! Now what?

In response to the introduction of the bipartisan Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act of 2013  last Thursday in the US Senate co-sponsored by 26 Senators, see our Iconoclast post here, the Iranian government struck back. Press TV filed a story Wednesday that 100 MPs in the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament, signed legislation to accelerate enrichment and completion of construction of the Arak heavy water reactor for production of fissile plutonium, should the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act be passed “Iran MPs draft bill on 60% uranium enrichment”.  Press TV reported:

Iranian lawmakers have drafted a bill that would oblige the government to produce 60-percent enriched uranium in line with the requirements of the nation’s ‘civilian’ nuclear program.

Signed by 100 legislators, the draft was presented to the Presiding Board of Majlis on Wednesday.

“If the bill is approved, the government will be obliged to complete nuclear infrastructure at Fordo and Natanz [facilities] if sanctions [against Iran] are ratcheted up, new sanctions are imposed, the country’s nuclear rights are violated and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ‘peaceful’ nuclear rights are ignored by members of P5+1,” Iranian lawmaker Seyyed Mehdi Mousavinejad said on Wednesday.

The bill would oblige the government to put the Arak heavy water reactor into operation and enrich uranium to the 60-percent purity level in order to provide fuel for submarine engines if the sanctions are tightened and Iran’s nuclear rights are ignored, the MP underscored.

We noted in our Iconoclast post on the new US Senate sanctions bill:

Clearly, these Senators are skeptical that an ultimate agreement can be achieved with the Islamic Regime in Tehran based on the P5+1 interim agreement and Joint Plan of Action (JPA). This despite President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry’s lobbying effort aimed at providing a hiatus to resolve issues with Iran. They are not the only ones; French Foreign Minister Fabius also renewed his dour prediction that a final agreement to prevent nuclear breakout and a weapons delivery capability may not be possible.  The US Senators and French Foreign Minister Fabius can point to a Press TV news release with comments by Ali Akbar Salehi, Iranian head of their Atomic Energy Organization.  Salehi said “the country’s nuclear facilities, including Arak heavy water reactor, will continue running, dismissing Western governments’ call on Tehran to suspend activities at the facility”.

Kirk’s and Menendez’s statements introducing the new legislation reflected a deepening skepticism on Capitol Hill and in polls across America and in Israel that Iran will honor any agreements.  This is based on its track record of deception, relentless pursuit of nuclear hegemony in the Middle East and its global reach of terrorism against the West.

We further noted President Obama’s objections to the new US Senate sanctions bill:

President Obama in his year end press conference, prior to his departure for a vacation with family in Hawaii, responded to questions about the new Senate sanctions initiative, saying:

What I’ve said to members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, is there is no need for new sanctions legislation, not yet.

Now, if Iran comes back and says, we can’t give you assurances that we’re not going to weaponize, if they’re not willing to address some of their capabilities that we know could end up resulting in them having breakout capacity, it’s not going to be hard for us to turn the dials back, strengthen sanctions even further. I’ll work with members of Congress to put even more pressure on Iran. But there’s no reason to do it right now.

Press TV  noted what immediately prompted the new Majlis uranium acceleration bill:

Moreover, the administration of US President Barack Obama on December 12 issued new sanctions against more than a dozen companies  and individuals for “providingsupport for” Iran’s nuclear energy program.  [For details see: US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control Sanctions Designations, December 12, 2013]

The US Treasury Department said it was freezing assets and banning transactions of entities that attempt to evade the sanctions against Iran.

This is while under a nuclear agreement reached in Geneva last month, the United States should not impose fresh economic sanctions against Iran over the next six months.

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on December 23rd that Washington seeks to include “triggers” in any final nuclear deal with Iran to automatically re-impose sanctions if Tehran violates the terms of the agreement.

The Islamic regime never ceases to threaten that they will not be deterred in achievement of their nuclear program objectives. That may be triggered by possible passage of new strengthened sanctions legislation or breakdowns in negotiations towards a final agreement based in part on the P5+1 Interim Agreement reached in Geneva on November 24, 2013.  Skepticism abounds about possible achievement of such a final agreement. Hence, concerns about possible military action should the process breakdown.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.