Iran stockpiling uranium, will pass key point of 2015 nuclear deal within the next 10 days
dpa, Hamburg, Germany
Iran said Monday it is preparing to enrich uranium to higher grades than allowed by its nuclear pact with global powers, marking a departure from a core commitment designed to prevent Tehran from building nuclear weapons.
A spokesman for Iran’s nuclear energy agency, Behrus Kamalwandi, said Iran had a need for enriched uranium of 5% purity at a southern nuclear reactor, and 20% for a reactor in Tehran.
Under the 2015 accord, Iran agreed not to enrich uranium beyond 3.67% purity.
Of the uranium enriched to 3.67%, Iran is not allowed to stock more than 300 kilograms. Kamalwandi said the country would break that limit within the next 10 days.
The powers that signed the nuclear agreement with Iran in 2015 sought to prevent higher enrichment levels because the 20-per-cent material could be processed further into weapons-grade uranium very quickly.
Despite opposition from European partners, President Donald Trump pulled the United States from the deal last year and implemented new economic sanctions.
Iranian President Hassan Rowhani last month unveiled a step-by-step plan to begin withdrawing from parts of the deal and gave the remaining partners – China, Germany, France, Britain and Russia – until the start of July to revive the deal and ease sanctions on Iran’s oil and financial sector.
Tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated last week after two tankers in the Gulf of Oman were attacked. The United States, Saudi Arabia and Britain believe Iran to be responsible. Iran denies having any role.
The two vessels, from Norway and Japan, were damaged in the incidents early Thursday. The Norwegian tanker caught fire after an explosion. The alleged attacks, at a time of heightened tensions in the region, have prompted concerns about the outbreak of a new Gulf war.
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