Iran halts its dismantling of centrifuges

The deal the U.S. signed with Iran regarding its nuclear program clearly specifies that Iran must dismantle all but a few thousand of its nearly 20,000 centrifuges.  Iran began the dismantling process last week.

But so-called "hardliners" in the Iranian government sent a letter to President Rouhani accusing him of moving too quickly to implement the deal.  Yesterday, the government announced it had stopped decommissioning the centrifuges.


Iran has stopped dismantling centrifuges in two uranium enrichment plants, state media reported on Tuesday, days after conservative lawmakers complained to President Hassan Rouhani that the process was too rushed.

Last week, Iran announced it had begun shutting down inactive centrifuges at the Natanz and Fordow plants under the terms of a deal struck with world powers in July that limits its nuclear program in exchange for easing sanctions.

Iran's hardliners continue to resist and undermine the nuclear deal, which was forged by moderates they oppose and which they see as a capitulation to the West.

"The (dismantling) process stopped with a warning," Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of the National Security Council, was quoted as saying by the ISNA student news agency.

Only decommissioned centrifuges were being dismantled to begin with, of which there were about 10,000 at Natanz and Fordow, the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran has said.

Shamkhani did not specify what he meant by "warning", but the head of parliament's nuclear deal commission, Alireza Zakani, told Mehr news agency that the dismantling had stopped in Fordow because of the lawmakers' letter to Rouhani.

Zakani, who was not one of the signatories of the letter, did not mention activities at Natanz.

A group of 20 hardline parliamentarians wrote to the president last week complaining that the deactivation of centrifuges contradicted the directives of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Khamenei has said that the deal should only be implemented once allegations of past military dimensions (PMD) of Iran's nuclear program had been settled.

The International Atomic Energy Agency is expected to announce its conclusions on PMD by Dec. 15.

Indeed, there's very little difference between the so-called "hardliners" and those the Western press has designated as "moderates."  And Rouhani may try to use the hardliners as an excuse to not fully implement the deal.  Supreme Leader Khamenei has already redefined key elements of the deal to favor Iran's nuclear program, which Rouhani will probably cite when he violates the terms of the agreement as we go along.

Of course, the president won't see it that way.  The chances of Obama calling out Iran for not following through to implement the deal are slim and none.  He will have his "legacy" accomplishment even if means Iran builds a bomb. 

And it's not just the president.  The rest of the world will also play pretend and refuse to punish Iran if, as expected, they define certain elements of the deal differently from how we do.  This weakness of the West in the face of such fanaticism continues.  It's an open question whether we will awake in time to save ourselves.