Nov 5, 2019

Iran to inject uranium gas in further break from nuclear deal

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks at parliament in the capital Tehran. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Tuesday Iran would "resume uranium enrichment" at its Fordow plant and begin injecting uranium gas into 1,044 centrifuges, Iranian state media reports.

Why it matters: The announcement coincided with the first anniversary of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran. Axios contributor Barak Ravid notes the announced plans are a substantial breach of Iran's nuclear deal.

  • "In the nuclear deal Iran committed to stop enrichment at Fordow and turn the facility to a reaserach center," Ravid said, noting it's the first time Iran has undertaken enrichment at Fordow since the 2015 deal.

The big picture: Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the policy institute the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, notes in an article for Axios that the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign "escalated further last week with new State Department findings that link the country's construction sector to its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps."

  • On Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement the U.S. had imposed sanctions on nine people connected to Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

What they're saying: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox Business Network's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" Monday after Iran announced an operation involving 60 more centrifuges that the sanctions on Iran were "having a real impact and we need to continue to press."

Go deeper: Expanding U.S. pressure campaign on Iran could reach a tipping point

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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Pompeo warns of possible Iranian nuclear "breakout" as tensions escalate

Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the possibility that Iran is preparing for "a rapid nuclear breakout" in a Thursday statement, highlighting the escalating crisis between Iran and the rest of the international community.

Why it matters: Since President Trump decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal last year and engage in a pressure campaign against the country, the Iranian government took steps to reduce their commitment to the 2015 deal.

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In mass arrests, Iran detains eight accused of CIA ties

Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Hossein Salami at a pro-government demonstration on Nov. 25, 2019 in Tehran, Iran. Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran says it has arrested over 500 people in the aftermath of protests over gas prices, AFP reports, and the regime claimed on late Wednesday that eight of those detained are linked to the CIA.

The big picture: Iran cut Internet access for the vast majority of the country earlier this month after protests erupted on Nov. 15. Human rights group Freedom House told Axios' Joe Uchill that the blackout prevented global reporting on Iranian police abuses and stifled coordination between protestors.

Go deeperArrowNov 28, 2019

106 killed in Iran protests, human rights group says

Iranians gather around a charred police station while they protest the increase in oil prices in Isfahan, Iran. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

At least 106 people have been killed in Iran since protests over increased oil prices began last week, according to human rights group Amnesty International, which says the true death toll could be far higher.

The big picture: Iran was much quicker to use violent measures this time than during previous protests. The Iranian government also shut down the internet to prevent social media from further mobilizing protesters, per CNN.

Go deeperArrowNov 19, 2019