July 4, 2020 | News | No Comments
Iran will take its most significant step in breaching the nuclear deal this weekend by casting aside a limit on uranium enrichment levels, the country’s president said Wednesday.
Hassan Rouhani said that on Sunday his government would stop respecting a clause in the deal which limits Iran to enriching uranium beyond the low level of 3.67 per cent.
"On July 7, our enrichment level will no longer be 3.67 per cent,” Mr Rouhani said. “We will put aside this commitment. We will increase beyond 3.67 per cent to as much as we want, as much as is necessary, as much as we need.”
The move is part of an Iranian strategy of slowly ratcheting up violations of the deal as a way of pressuring European states to do more to deliver the economic benefits Tehran was promised during the 2015 negotiations.
Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran. While Iran remained compliant for more than a year, it has now started incrementally violating sections of the agreement.
Mr Rouhani also said Iran would step up production of heavy water at the Arak reactor, which could eventually produce the type of plutonium needed for a nuclear weapon.
There is no sign Iran is currently seeking to build a nuclear weapon and even with the threatened violations it would be more than a year away from being able to build a bomb.
However, the decisions by Mr Trump to abandon the deal and by Iran to start backing out its terms have alarmed European diplomats, who believe the deal is in danger of collapse and the prospects of war are increasing.
Mr Rouhani said Iran was prepared to go back to abiding by the nuclear agreement if it received the economic benefits it was promised.
Boris Johnson said it would be a “great mistake” for Iran to pull out of the nuclear agreement. “I would urge again the Iranian government to think very, very hard about scrapping the [agreement] and breaching their commitments on the Iran nuclear deal,” Mr Johnson said.
France also warned Iran to return to compliance and not make any further violations. "Iran will gain nothing by leaving the Vienna accord," a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.