Iranian workers stand in front of Bushehr nuclear power plant, 1,200 km south of Tehran.
(photo credit: MEHR NEWS AGENCY/MAJID ASGARIPOUR/REUTERS)
Iran's enriched uranium stockpile exceeded the 300 kg limit set by the nuclear deal on Monday, according to the Iranian Fars news agency. This constitutes a direct violation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the nuclear pact the world superpowers reached with Iran in 2015.
An Iranian source told Fars
on Monday that the International Atomic Energy Agency found that the enriched uranium exceeded the ceiling of 300 kg.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed that the Islamic Republic breached the nuclear deal by stockpiling over 300 kg of enriched uranium, according to ISNA
Under the deal, Iran was prohibited from accumulating more than 300 kilograms of enriched uranium to the 3.67% level and from enriching uranium beyond that level, such as to the 20% level it had done before the deal.
"We are aware of the media reports related to Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU)," an International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman said, according to Reuters
. "Our inspectors are on the ground and they will report to headquarters as soon as the LEU stockpile has been verified."
"We told the Europeans that if more practical, more thorough and complete steps were taken, the measures taken to reduce Iran's commitments could be reversed, otherwise we will continue," Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said in response to the announcement.
Earlier on Monday, Iran's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi said that "if nothing happens in the next 10 days," Iran would start the second phase of increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium to an amount higher than the amount before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal was implemented in July 2015, according to Fars.
Ravanchi added that Iran has announced the elements of the second phase for modifying its nuclear deal undertakings.
"The Islamic Republic of Iran will firmly continue its move to decrease the nuclear deal undertakings and to this end will soon take the first step and pass the ceiling of 300kg of enriched uranium," said a source to the Persian-language Khorassan
newspaper, according to Fars
In May, Iran set a 60 day ultimatum which ends on July 16 for remaining members of the nuclear deal to fulfill bank and oil commitments towards Iran, according to Fars
. This opportunity will not be extended according to Iranian authorities.
The United States withdrew from the pact last year under which Iran accepted curbs on its nuclear programme in return for access to international trade. Iran has said it wants to abide by the agreement but cannot do so indefinitely as new US sanctions mean it is receiving none of the benefits.
"Our sanctions do not give Iran the right to accelerate its nuclear programme," US envoy Hook said in an interview before talks with European officials. "It can never get near a nuclear bomb. We are looking very closely at that so it doesn't get below the one year nuclear breakout time."
France, Britain and Germany have sent an official diplomatic warning to Iran if Tehran reduces its compliance with the accord, two European diplomats said in June.
It was not immediately clear what consequences Iran might face for non-compliance.
Yonah Jeremy Bob and Reuters contributed to this report.
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