SOURCE: THE WEEK
US President Donald Trump mulled an attack on Iran’s major nuclear site last week, but was “warned off it by advisers who said it risked sparking a broader conflict”, a New York Times report claimed. The strike would have targeted Natanz facility, and induced a further spike in hostilities which had risen to its peak during the Trump administration.
Trump had unilaterally sworn off the Iran nuclear deal, imposed crunching economic sanctions, threatened war, and assassinated top Iranian military General Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport. However, he had also, in the past, put his foot firmly down on military strikes; when there was a clamour for air strikes when Iran shot down a US drone earlier this year, Trump refused.
Trump’s question came immediately after reports which claimed Iran continued to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium far beyond the limits set in the nuclear deal with world powers, and to enrich it to a greater purity than permitted. UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries that Iran, as of November 2, had a stockpile of 2,442.9 kilograms (5,385.7 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, up from 2,105.4 kilograms (4,641.6 pounds) reported on August 25.
The nuclear deal signed in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).
The IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5 per cent, higher than the 3.67 per cent allowed under the deal.
Iran has openly announced all violations of the nuclear deal in advance, which have followed the decision by the US to pull out unilaterally in 2018.