Iran Boosts Uranium Enrichment, Says Measure Is Reversible

Iran playing 'diplomatic hardball' with Europe over oil sales

Time and again, Iran has made clear what they want out of the P5+1 nuclear deal, and it’s very simple – they just want to be allowed to sell oil abroad. Europe has assured them that they can, and the US has told Europe they’d better not, and so far, European companies are afraid to defy the US.

This is an increasingly desperate situation, and Iran is looking to play “diplomatic hardball” on their civilian uranium enrichment, trying to oblige Europe to make good on previous commitments to allow Iran to sell its oil.

Previously enriching to 3.67%, the level used to fuel the Bushehr power plant, Iran now intends to go up to 5%. This isn’t that much more, and it is lower than Iran was enriching before the nuclear deal, when they were producing fuel for the medical research reactor in Tehran.

The 5% level, however, has no use within Iran’s civilian program, and is far to low for any military use. Iranian officials assure Europe this is “reversible,” if they get the deal they want on oil.

This is reflective of the reality, that Iran is enriching up to 5% just to try to raise diplomatic pressure on Europe, and is saying they’ll eagerly dial it back down when Europe finally makes a deal. European officials are signaling they’re interested in a deal, so Iran’s strategy seems to be working.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of