Iran has announced it will break a limit set on uranium enrichment, in breach of the landmark 2015 deal designed to curb its nuclear ambitions.
Deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi said :
” Iran still wanted to salvage the deal.”
They blamed European countries for failing to live up to their own commitments.
The US unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018.
It has since reimposed tight sanctions affecting the Iranian economy.
Why does the enriched uranium stockpile matter?
The Iranian announcement marks the latest breach of the accord.
In May, Iran announced it would step up its production of enriched uranium.
Which can be used to make fuel for reactors but also for nuclear weapons.
The country has already stockpiled more enriched uranium than permitted under the terms of the deal.
Iran has strongly denied that it has any intention of building nuclear weapons.
On the anniversary of the US withdrawal, Iran gave a 60-day deadline to the remaining signatories of the deal
” China, France, Germany, Russia, and the UK “
to protect it from US sanctions.
Iran would start enriching uranium above a concentration of 3.67% within a few hours, to provide fuel for its Bushehr power plant.
Officials previously said this would mean a concentration of about 5%. Weapons-grade uranium 90% enriched or more.
However, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said that :
” Iran would not be making fuel for its Tehran reactor, which requires a concentration of 20%.”
“We will enrich uranium based on our needs,” he said. “Right now we don’t need to enrich uranium for the Tehran reactor.”
Mr. Araqchi said Iran would keep reducing its commitment to the 2015 deal every 60 days.
But he also stressed that diplomacy was still an option, provided the sanctions are lifted.
A spokesman for the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said :
Their inspectors would report back to headquarters “as soon as they verify the announced development”.