Iran Struggles to Navigate Cascading Crises at Home and Abroad

Iran Struggles to Navigate Cascading Crises at Home and Abroad
A firefighter disinfects the shrine of Saint Saleh to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in Tehran, Iran, March, 6, 2020 (AP photo by Ebrahim Noroozi).

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran is accelerating its production of enriched uranium. It was just the latest in a series of progressive breaches by Tehran of the 2015 nuclear agreement, as part of an effort to raise the pressure on the Trump administration for withdrawing from the deal and reimposing devastating economic sanctions on Iran. But last week’s announcement marked a key milestone: For the first time in years, Iran possesses enough low-enriched uranium to manufacture a nuclear weapon, although it would first have to enrich the uranium to a much higher level. Experts now estimate that should the country’s leaders choose to do so, it could have a nuclear weapon in three or four months.

This comes at a time of domestic upheaval in Iran, as authorities struggle to contain an outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease known as COVID-19, and also as parliamentary elections last month strengthened the hand of conservative and hard-line political factions in Tehran. Tensions with the United States, meanwhile, remain high, even as the two sides have backed off from the brink of war. The recent news of Iran ramping up its nuclear program, however, could cause tensions to spike yet again.

For this week’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman discusses all of this with Dina Esfandiary, a fellow at the Century Foundation. Her research focuses on Iran’s foreign relations and security issues in the Persian Gulf and across the Middle East.

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Relevant Articles on WPR:
Trump’s Iran Strategy Is Still Just an Anti-Obama Vendetta
How a Coronavirus Outbreak Could Add to Iran’s Many Troubles
Reformists Are Dispirited and Hard-Liners Resurgent Ahead of Iran’s Election
Why Hitting the Pause Button Is the Best the U.S. and Iran Can Hope For
Why Iran May Be Locked Into a Future of More Protests

Trend Lines is produced and edited by Peter Dörrie, a freelance journalist and analyst focusing on security and resource politics in Africa. You can follow him on Twitter at @peterdoerrie.

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