Iran breaches nuclear fuel stockpile allowed under 2015 accord

July 1: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has declared that Tehran has breached the limit of its enriched uranium stockpile by increasing the level of its low-enriched uranium production to over 300 kg as it had announced earlier “in line with Articles 26 and 36 of the 2015 nuclear deal”, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Zarif confirmed that Iran had exceeded the relevant limit of 300 kg of uranium hexafluoride (UF6), but Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi countered,saying, Iran’s steps to decrease its commitments to the nuclear deal were “reversible”The International Atomic Energy agency (IAEA) said that its inspectors were verifying whether Iran had accumulated more enriched uranium than allowed.

Enriching uranium to a low level of 3.6% fissile material will allow Iran to amass enough highly-enriched uranium to build a nuclear warhead.

But this announcement by Iran is  Tehran’s first major breach of the accord since US President Donald Trump withdrew unilaterally  from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

The deal, which Iran had signed with the P5+1 group of countries — the US, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany — in July 2015 had limited its uranium enrichment in exchange for an easing of international sanctions.

The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, declined to say Monday whether Iran had broken through the limit but as per recent survey Iran had roughly 200 kg of low-enriched uranium, just below the deal’s 202.8 kg limit.

Zarif reiterated that his country would not bow to foreign pressure, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Monday.Today, Iran has to stand against U.S. economic sanctions through domestic production and relying on national potentials,” he said, without making any reference to the nuclear program.

This also defy a warning by European co-signatories to stick to the deal despite U.S. sanctions because European countries had offered Iran too little in the form of trade assistance.

ISNA news agency reported: Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said: “We told the Europeans that if more practical, mature and complete measures were taken, Iran’s reduction (to its) commitments could be reversed. Otherwise, we will continue.”

Tehran had threatened to surpass the maximum permitted amount of enriched uranium in retaliation to crippling US economic sanctions.

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