Quarterly Updates for (1 Jul 2019 — 30 Sep 2019)

United Kingdom-Iran Rift

               Iran and the United Kingdom (UK) relations started on rocky ground this quarter as the UK stopped an Iranian oil tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar, believing it was delivering oil to Syria, which is under sanction by the European Union. The UK then shortly after complained that Iran had obstructed passage for 1 British tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. The UK said that Iranian vessels left the area only after a verbal warning from a UK navy vessel in the area. Iran denied the allegations that the country had sought to block the ship. Then, 2 weeks later on 7/19, Iranian special forces seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran said it seized the ship because it had been involved in an accident, but the UK called the seizure an act of hostility and denied the Iranian claims. 7 of the crew members were released from the tanker in early September and the remaining 16 members remained on the ship until it was released shortly before the end of the quarter.


Enriching Uranium

               Iran had last quarter stated it would start enriching uranium beyond what was agreed to in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) because of the United States (U.S.) leaving the deal. On 7/8, Iran announced it had exceeded the purity limitations set forward by the JCPOA by enriching uranium to 4.5 percent. The JCPOA signatories urged Iran to adhere to the deal although the U.S. administration had broken away from it. On 9/3, the spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran told Fars News that Iran could obtain 20 percent purity of uranium in 2 days if they wanted. Days before, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said that he would not talk to the U.S. unless they lift all sanctions, in response to U.S. president Donald Trump saying that he would meet with President Rouhani. Rouhani also said that Iran would continue to scale back its compliance with the JCPOA deal until the sanctions were lifted and that Iran does not want nuclear weapons. The U.S. had earlier this quarter imposed sanctions on Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif for acting on behalf of the Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Foreign Minister Zarif thanked the U.S. in a tweet for “considering me such a huge threat to your agenda.”

For Israeli strikes on Iranian allies, see Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon.