Quarterly Updates for (1 Apr 2019 — 30 Jun 2019)

               In May, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani announced that Iran would increase its uranium enrichment after 60 days since the signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) had not fulfilled their duties relating to the plan. The announcement came on the 1-year anniversary of the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. U.S. president Donald Trump responded by putting additional sanctions on Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency director general Yukiya Amano said on 10 June that Iran had begun accelerating its uranium enrichment but would not say by how much.

               In the immediate aftermath of President Rouhani’s announcement, the U.S. blamed Iran for attacks on 2 Saudi oil tankers on 12 May and 2 Saudi oil-pumping stations on 14 May. The U.S. also blamed Iran for a rocket that landed in the vicinity of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on 19 May. President Trump tweeted after the rocket landing that “[if] Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!” The Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif responded to Trump’s tweet, calling it a “genocidal taunt,” telling Trump to “Try respect—it works!” The U.S. also blamed Iran for 2 additional attacks on Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz on 13 June, allegations that Iran denied. By the end of the quarter, it remained unclear who committed the above attacks.

               The conflict between Iran and the U.S. further escalated on 20 June when Iran shot down a U.S. drone claiming that it was in Iranian air space; U.S. officials claimed that it was in international air space. President Trump subsequently tweeted that the U.S. was 10 minutes away from bombing Iranian targets in Iran, but that he had ordered the strike off because he was told that 150 people would probably be killed.

               The U.S. designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a foreign terrorist organization on 15 April after President Trump said in a statement on 8 April that his administration would do so. President Rouhani called the designation a calculated boost to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election campaign, saying, “[t]he leader of the Zionist regime made it clear that this step was taken at his request.”

               For Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria, see Israel.