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Iran announces new breach of nuclear deal
International

Iran announces new breach of nuclear deal

Agency News

Tehran, Jul 7 : Iran has announced it will break a limit set on uranium enrichment, in breach of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

Deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi said Iran still wanted to salvage the deal but blamed European countries for failing to live up to their own commitments, said a BBC News report on Sunday.

The US unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018.

It has since reimposed strict sanctions on Iran.

The Iranian announcement marks the latest breach of the accord. In May, Iran stepped up its production of enriched uranium, which can be used to make fuel for reactors but also for nuclear weapons.

The country has already stockpiled more enriched uranium than permitted under the terms of the deal.

Iran has strongly denied that it has any intention of building nuclear weapons.

What has Iran announced?
On the anniversary of the US withdrawal, Iran gave a 60-day deadline to the remaining signatories of the deal - China, France, Germany, Russia and the UK - to protect it from US sanctions.

Speaking at a press conference on Sunday at the end of that deadline, Mr Araqshi said Iran would start enriching uranium above a concentration of 3.67% within a few hours, to provide fuel for its Bushehr power plant.

Officials previously said this would mean a concentration of about 5%. Weapons-grade uranium is 90% enriched or more.

Mr Araqchi said Iran would keep reducing its commitment to the 2015 deal every 60 days.

But he also stressed that diplomacy was still an option, provided the sanctions are lifted.

Israel's energy minister has already criticised the move, saying that while the increase was "moderate", Iran had "begun its march... toward nuclear weaponry".

The announcement comes a day after French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and expressed his "strong concern" about what would happen if the agreement was abandoned.

Mr Rouhani called on European countries to act now to save the deal.

What is the nuclear deal?
Six countries signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015 to curb Iran's nuclear programme.

Tehran agreed to let in international inspectors and to limit its nuclear activities, in exchange for an end to tight economic sanctions.

Under the deal, Iran is only permitted to produce low-enriched uranium, which has a 3-4pc concentration of U-235, and can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants.

The deal also restricted Iran to the stockpiling no more than 300kg (661lb) of the low-enriched uranium.

A stockpile of 1,050kg, however, could be further enriched later into enough material to build one bomb, according to the Arms Control Association. (UNI)