Iran announces it will reach allowed enriched uranium limits in 10 days

Official threatens to leave the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

June 17, 2019 14:41
2 minute read.
Iran FM Zarif, EU Foreign Affairs Rep. Mogherini, and Iranian and Russian officials in Vienna 2015

Iran FM Zarif, EU Rep. for Foreign Affairs Mogherini, and Iranian and Russian officials at signing of nuclear deal in Vienna, 2015. (photo credit: LEONHARD FOEGER / REUTERS)


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Iran announced that it will reach allowed enriched-uranium levels within ten days, the country's nuclear spokesperson announced on Monday.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said that, "there are two scenarios. One is to increase the enrichment up to 5% for use in Bushehr power plants, or to increase it up to 20% for the Tehran reactor."

Iran is expected to announce further steps to reduce its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal after halting aspects of its compliance in May.

A year after the US started a maximum pressure campaign against the Islamic republic and pulled out of the deal, saying that holes in the agreement meant it was not viable, Tehran has turned up the heat.

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.

It was also prohibited from accumulating more than 130 metric tons of heavy water used in the plutonium path to a nuclear weapon.

To date, Iran has only said that it would start to ignore the 300 kilogram and 130 metric ton limits, and the IAEA recently confirmed that Tehran has been violating these limits.

But Iran has not yet broken the 20% enrichment limit and has not started to reinstall some 13,000 disassembled centrifuges to add them to the around 6,000 permitted centrifuges for enriching uranium. 

All eyes are on whether it will take some of those more significant measures, which could actually shorten its breakout time to a nuclear bomb, or whether its additional violations will remain minor and more gradual.

Other larger breaks with the deal could include Iran starting to limit the access of IAEA inspectors to some nuclear sites or a withdrawal from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

On May 8, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gave the remaining signatories to the deal - England, France, Germany, China and Russia - 60 days to start protecting Iran's oil and banking sectors from US sanctions.

The chairman of the Iranian Parliament's Nuclear Committee, Mojtaba Zonnour, said that Iran will consider leaving the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty altogether if Europe's JCPOA signatories do not comply with Iran’s demands before the 60-day deadline, the Mehr news agency reported on Monday.

“The volume of our economic transactions with Europe at best is $20 billion in a year, whereas the volume of economic transactions between Europe and the US is something between $900 billion -1,000 billion. Of course, Europe would not sacrifice $1,000 billion for $20 billion,” he told Mehr.

He added that preserving the nuclear deal in its current state is beneficial to Europe, “because they don’t want to pay the price. They just want to control Iran, and make sure that we won’t gain anything from the agreement.”

Monday's announcement comes amid rising tensions in the Gulf after a series of attacks on Saudi, UAE and other oil vessels and infrastructure, with the US and Israel accusing Iran, and the Islamic republic denying responsibility.

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