Iran says it will break uranium stockpile limit in 10 days

Saul Bowman
June 18, 2019

The announcement indicated Iran's determination to break from the landmark 2015 accord, which has steadily unraveled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the deal a year ago and re-imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.

Remember, although Trump has withdrawn the USA from Obama's nuclear deal and ramped up sanctions, the deal remains in effect momentarily between Iran and the European signatories. Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for Iran's atomic agency said it would pass that limit on Thursday, June 27.

Under the 2015 deal - formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - Iran agreed with the Obama administration and several European states to limit uranium prodcution.

Reuters news agency quoted a US National Security Council spokesman as saying the enrichment plans were "nuclear blackmail" and should be met with "increased worldwide pressure".

Iran has warned that, within days, it will breach the limit on its stockpile of enriched uranium, a central element of the Iran nuclear deal.

It appears as if Iran has begun its own maximum pressure campaign on the world after facing one from President Donald Trump's administration that deeply cut into its sale of crude oil overseas and sent its economy into freefall.

The United States has released what it claims is evidence that Iran was behind two alleged attacks on oil tankers last week near the Strait of Hormuz.

While Washington has pulled out of the deal, the other signatories to the agreement have not. Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Under the accord, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

The accord caps Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium at 300kg of uranium hexafluoride enriched to 3.67 per cent or its equivalent for 15 years.

"Our assessment on the implementation of the nuclear deal has never been, is not and will never be based on statements, but on the evaluation that the IAEA makes, the reports that the IAEA produces and that can be done at any time", Mogherini said after the talks.

Mr Trump wants to force Iran to renegotiate the accord and agree to curb its ballistic missile programme and end its "malign" activities in the Middle East.

The issue of these financial bodies has emerged as a crucial tension point in the debate over Iran, as traditional American allies such as Germany, France, and Britain seek to use the STFI to skirt Trump's sanctions.

Iran has denied being involved in the attacks and accused the USA of promoting an "Iranophobic" campaign against it.

Iran needs five per cent enrichment for its nuclear power plant in southern Iranian port of Bushehr and it also needs 20 per cent enrichment for a Tehran research reactor, the spokesperson said. Look the other way and hope that a diplomatic breakthrough will arrive before Iran has a stash of weapons-grade uranium? Tehran denies ever having had one.

Despite Tehran's repeated denials, US diplomatic and military officials blame Iran directly for what they say were explosions that disabled two cargo ships on Thursday - the Norwegian-owned Front Altair and the Japanese Kokuka Courageous - in the Gulf of Oman near Iranian waters.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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