Iran defies limit on enriched uranium
Iran said yesterday it had exceeded a limit on its enriched uranium reserves under a 2015 nuclear deal that has edged toward collapse as the US imposes a “maximum pressure” campaign.
“Iran has crossed the 300-kilogram limit based on its plan” announced in May, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the ISNA news agency.
The United States withdrew from the nuclear deal last year and reimposed biting sanctions on Iran’s crucial oil exports and financial transactions as well as other sectors.
Tehran, which has sought to pressure the remaining parties to save the deal, on May 8 announced it would no longer respect the limit set on its enriched uranium and heavy water stockpiles.
It also threatened to go further and abandon more nuclear commitments unless the remaining partners, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, helped it to circumvent sanctions, especially to sell its oil.
In his comments published yesterday, Zarif said Iran had set out its intentions “very clearly” in May.
The International Atomic Energy Agency yesterday confirmed Iran had exceeded the limit that the deal had imposed on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium. The IAEA “verified on July 1 that Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile exceeded 300 kilograms,” a spokesperson said.
The EU said on Friday after a crisis meeting aimed at salvaging the deal that a special payment mechanism set up to help Iran skirt the sanctions, known as INSTEX, was finally “operational” and that the first transactions were being processed. But “the Europeans’ efforts were not enough, therefore Iran will go ahead with its announced measures,” Zarif said.
The 2015 deal saw Iran commit never to acquire an atomic bomb, to accept drastic limits on its nuclear program and submit to IAEA inspections in exchange for a partial lifting of crippling international sanctions. But US President Donald Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the deal — and subsequent sanctions — have deprived Iran of the economic benefits and plunged it into recession.