On Sunday, January 5, the Iranian government announced it will no longer adhere to limits on fuel enrichment, the size of its enriched uranium stockpile, and research and development activities outlined in the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif cautioned that the move does not mean that Iran is scrapping the deal entirely, and that Iran will continue to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The move comes after a targeted US drone strike killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani, deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and other senior Iraqi and Iranian officers near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) on Friday, January 3.
Heightened tensions between Iran, the US, and their respective allies are to be expected in the region over the near term. Attacks targeting US personnel and assets in the Middle East remain possible as Iran has vowed revenge for Soleimani's killing.
The US Department of Defense released a statement on January 3 claiming responsibility for an airstrike targeting and killing Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) the same day. According to the statement, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Notably, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike. The situation remains fluid.
Individuals in Iran and across the region are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid all demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.