Amid conservatives complaining about the Rouhani government’s “rushed” compliance with the P5+1 nuclear deal and hardliners trying to undermine the pact in general, the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization has halted the process of decommissioning centrifuges at Natanz and Fordow.
The move comes amid US complaints that Iran is “complying too fast” with the terms of the deal, as they were expecting it to take at least six months for Iran to bring its program into compliance, and the Rouhani government had been on track to complete it by the end of the year.
This was a hugely important political point within Iran, with February elections looming. The Rouhani government had been hoping to get sanctions relief rolling before the vote as a way of boosting the reformist candidates, while the hardliners are hoping to campaign against the deal on the grounds no relief has come yet.
US officials had suggested they had no intention of offering the pledged relief sooner just because Iran was moving faster, though some European nations seemed keen to get the reforms in place more quickly, allowing them to implement major business deals with Iranian companies looking to modernize after decades of sanctions.
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