Following a high-level meeting, Iran said late Sunday it would cease complying with any and all restrictions on its nuclear program.
“The Islamic Republic will no longer observe any limits on the operational aspects, to include uranium enrichment capacity, enrichment percentage, levels of enriched material and research and development”, Fars said, citing a statement from the government.
Tehran had gradually fallen out of compliance with the terms of the agreement in an effort to compel the US to abandon its “maximum pressure” campaign. Over the past eight months, Iran has breached a stockpile limit on enriched uranium, exceeded the enrichment ceiling and begun enriching uranium with advanced centrifuges.
In November, an IAEA inspector was “harassed” in the course of conducting her duties. Around the same time, the country said it planned to inject uranium gas into centrifuges buried in Fordow, the secretive mountain facility which ignited an international incident in 2009, when its existence was unveiled.
Now, in the wake of the drone strike that killed its most revered general, the country is doing what Donald Trump did nearly two years ago – abandoning the nuclear deal altogether. Tehran will continue to work with the UN nuclear watchdog, Fars says.
Meanwhile, the US-led joint task force against ISIS has suspended operations in Iraq in order to focus on defending bases against threats from Shia militias loyal to Iran.
Here is the official statement;
Our first priority is protecting all Coalition personnel committed to the defeat of Daesh. Repeated rocket attacks over the last two months by elements of Kata’ib Hezbollah have caused the death of Iraqi Security Forces personnel and a U.S. civilian. As a result we are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops. This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review. We remain resolute as partners of the Government of Iraq and the Iraqi people that have welcomed us into their country to help defeat ISIS. We remain ready to return our full attention and efforts back to our shared goal of ensuring the lasting defeat of Daesh.
A couple of things are worth noting. First, the US will not, as stated, “remain resolute as partners of the Government of Iraq”, because parliament on Sunday voted to expel US troops from the country and ban use of its airspace. That’s not official as of this writing, but the prime minister (acting in a caretaker capacity) is set to support the resolution.
Of course, parliament is effectively controlled by groups loyal to Iran, while Sunnis and Kurds generally did not show up for the vote, underscoring the extent to which the US simply does not have any sway left in the country relative to Iranian influence.
Second, do not let it be lost on you that although Iraq’s Shia militias have, in fact, inflicted casualties on US forces since the invasion in 2003, those same militias were instrumental in the ground war to oust ISIS. There is no chance (zero) that the Iraqi military proper would have succeeded in the fight against ISIS without the help of militias loyal to, and ultimately commanded by, Soleimani’s Quds.
Now, in order to fight a war with the very same Shia militias the US implicitly cooperated with in the ISIS fight, America has ceased to support the anti-ISIS effort, a truly absurd (if wholly predictable) manifestation of the “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran.
The bottom line is that the US is now in Iraq for one purpose, and one purpose only: To engage in guerrilla warfare with Shia militias openly backed by the very same politicians who just voted to boot American troops from the country.
How do you imagine that’s going to turn out?
Sunday’s events show that the Trump administration’s assassination of one man has, at the least, raised the odds of an ISIS resurgence, triggered a vote to rescind the invitation for US troops to operate in Iraq and ended any hope of convincing Tehran to return to compliance with the nuclear deal.
This is a complete and utter disaster. There are no two ways about it.