Iran breaches enriched uranium limit, sparks global concern
Iran has exceeded the 300kg cap on its enriched uranium stockpile agreed under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed the breach on Monday (local time).
“We can confirm that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has informed the Board of Governors that the Agency verified on 1 July that Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile exceeded [the deal’s limit],” an IAEA spokesman said in a statement.
The IAEA’s confirmation came after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told media that Iran had “crossed the 300-kilogramme limit”.
Mr Zarif said the development did not violate the JCPOA, claiming it was an appropriate response to the United States’ unilateral withdrawal from the pact last year.
Following the withdrawal, Washington reimposed severe sanctions on Iran sparking a plummet in relations.
Mr Zarif tweeted:
E3+2 refers to the remaining signatories of the JCPOA, which include Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China.
Mr Zarif tweeted the message along with the text of paragraph 36 of the JCPOA, which provides a mechanism to resolve disputes when parties believe other signatories are not fulfilling their obligations.
Tehran claims Britain, Germany nor France have protected Iran’s interests under the deal.
The US said on Monday (local time) it would maintain a policy of maximum pressure on Iran until “its leaders alter their course of action”.
“We must restore the longstanding nonproliferation standard of no enrichment for Iran,” the White House said in a statement.
“The regime must end its nuclear ambitions and its malign behavior.”
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was “deeply worried” that Iran had “broken existing nuclear deal obligations” and pledged to further reduce its compliance with the agreement.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov downplayed the breach, noting that Tehran had provided notice that it would exceed the enriched uranium limit.
Mr Ryabkov urged all parties to “avoid escalation”, saying the development “causes regret, but [should not] be overdramatised” and describing it as a “natural result” of the US’ maximum pressure campaign against Tehran.
Poor US-Iran relations were exacerbated last month when two oil tankers were attacked in the Gulf of Oman, which Washington blames on Tehran.
Iran denies any involvement and has accused the US of trying to provoke another conflict in the Middle East.
However, a week after the tankers were attacked, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a US surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz, claiming the aircraft was in Iranian airspace.
The US claims the drone was in international airspace.
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