KEY POINTS

  • Iran has redesigned Arak reactor and started activation
  • The U.S. walked away from the agreement with Iran citing failure to comply
  • Iran has had many provocative run-ins with the U.S. military recently.
  • The region is losing stability quickly

Iran has resumed work on a heavy water reactor that has been shut down since 2015. In an effort to appear defiant to the demands of the west, Iran unveiled new work on its Arak reactor.

Despite drawing the irk of its rivals, this move did not defy current international restrictions on its nuclear program but still came across as a show of force to the U.S. who has backed out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The other parties who made the agreement continue to work with Tehran.

A report by Al Jazeera states the government, through the Iranian state television channel, announced that it had switched on to secondary circuit at the plant on Dec. 23. This move demonstrates the resolve of Iranian leaders to continue testing and development in the nuclear sector.

Tehran has been allowed to make a small amount of heavy water for power, medical, and other uses, and they have been working on redesigning the reactor. A control room is being built, and the other systems are expected to be online by 2021.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visited Japan last week, which spurred an offer by Japan to mediate between Tehran and Washington. The countries that remain a party to the agreement would like to see the deal maintained but have noted that it appears to be crumbling.  The U.S. has resumed economic sanctions on Iran causing hardship and economic turmoil in the country.

iran-4509837_1920 Undisclosed location in Iran Photo: Anonymous

Recently presumed aggression by the Iranian government has not done anything to manipulate the U.S. into dropping the sanctions out of fear. Several non-hostile incursions between Iran and the U.S. military have done quite the opposite.

Iran claims that it will only be producing radioactive isotopes for domestic and medical purposes, but the U.S. believes that there is a much more sinister purpose behind the plan. In the same breath that claimed the materials would not be used for war, Tehran also said it would take another step in lowering its commitment to the deal if Europe does not implement its commitments

Such veiled threats are widespread when dealing with Iran, who earlier this month notified the world that several developments would be made public, including the production of materials that could be used to create a nuclear weapon. Scientists from countries representing the agreement confirmed that the reactor was capable of making the needed materials.

An intelligence source in the Middle East tells International Business Times that tensions in the area have not relaxed:  "Between Iran sneaking missiles into Baghdad to provoking U.S. Navy ships. Now they want to start the nuclear talk again? The region is far from stable and getting worse by the day, the troops have been on high alert all month."