Iran to Increase Uranium Enrichment in Violation of 2015 Nuclear Treaty

Cheryl Sanders
June 17, 2019

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Luxembourg that Germany, France, Britain, China and Russian Federation were keeping their obligations under the nuclear deal and that it is "incumbent upon Iran to remain committed to its responsibilities".

If they're serious about "maximum pressure", they should sanction it and try to choke Iran off completely from trade with the west - although in that case, a desperate Iran might seek a nuclear "breakout", enriching uranium to high levels and maybe trying to build a bomb.

At a news conference at the Arak Nuclear Complex that was carried live Monday on Iranian television, Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said that stockpile limit could be exceeded within 10 days.

But Kamalvandi said Monday that the country needs 5 per cent enrichment for its nuclear power plant in southern Iranian port of Bushehr and 20 per cent enrichment for a Tehran research reactor.

Tensions between Iran and the United States have escalated ever since, with Washington bolstering its military presence in the region and blacklisting Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.

Enriched uranium is used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear weapons.

"It's a crucial moment, and France can still work with other signatories of the deal and play an historic role to save the deal in this very short time", Rouhani was quoted as saying during a meeting with France's new ambassador in Iran.

He said, "Today the countdown to pass the 300 kilograms reserve of enriched uranium has started and in 10 days' time..." the limit will be passed.

"The regime's nuclear blackmail must be met with increased global pressure".

The ultimatum from Tehran is likely to trigger a desperate diplomatic scramble by European powers to save the unravelling nuclear deal and force Britain, France, and Germany to consider what they will do if Iran openly breaks the accord.

"They range from going to 3.68 per cent to any other per cent according to the country's needs", said Kamalvandi.

It follows accusations from the United States that Iran attacked two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.

Kamalvandi left open the possibility of returning to compliance with the treaty if the European parties help to relieve some of the burden of US sanctions by establishing alternative trade arrangements.

U.S. Central Command, which oversees American operations in the region, has released a string of materials in recent days demonstrating what it says is Iran's involvement in the attacks.

The move further undermines the nuclear pact also signed by Russia, Britain, Germany, China and the European Union, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the collapse of the deal would not be in the interests of the region or the world.

That increase could be to any level, from 3.67% which is the current limit set by the nuclear deal. On Sunday, it published a statement confirming a U.S. Reaper drone was shot down June 6 over Yemen by what it says were Houthi rebels with Iranian assistance.

Both Washington and Tehran have been repositioning military forces, both sides are lashing out at the other side's ability to import oil (Iran is taking shots at the United States by hitting its allies, the Saudis and the UAE) and neither is singling an iota of flexibility as Iran's July 7 deadline comes closer.

Authorities are still debating whether to "redesign or revive" the Arak reactor, he added. Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Iran said on Monday it had exposed a cyber espionage network, accused the Central Intelligence Agency of running it and that several USA spies had been arrested in different countries as a result.

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