Iran prepares to violate uranium limit in nuclear deal | News | DW | 17.06.2019
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Iran prepares to violate uranium limit in nuclear deal

The Islamic Republic has signaled its intention to exceed limits on uranium enrichment under the deal. Iranian officials said European guarantors still have time to save the accord before it surpasses "the 300 kg limit."

Iran on Monday said it would surpass its stockpile limit of low-enriched uranium by June 27, a move likely to further exacerbate tensions between Washington and Tehran.

"We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will bypass the 300 kilogram limit," said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.

Iranian officials have urged European guarantors of the nuclear deal — including Germany, France and the UK — to save the deal with signatories China and Russia after US President Donald Trump withdrew American support for the accord.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned Tehran it must continue to comply with the deal.

"Iran cannot just tell the other parties to the deal they must do more, and itself do less than is in this accord," he said.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he "regrets" Tehran's announcement, adding that France "strongly encourages Iran to maintain a patient and responsible attitude."

Read more: Iran nuclear deal crisis: Is war with the US ahead?

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the bloc would only react to a breach of the pact if the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed one had taken place. 

Watch video 00:48

Macron, Maas urge caution in Iran nuclear row

Under pressure

However, European attempts to circumvent US sanctions by establishing a trade mechanism have failed to gain traction in Tehran, with Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling it a "bitter joke."

"Iran's reserves are every day increasing at a more rapid rate. If it is important for (Europe) to safeguard the accord, they should make their best efforts," Kamalvandi said. "As soon as they carry out their commitments, things will naturally go back to their original state."

Washington has pressured its European allies to withdraw from the agreement to further isolate Tehran. But European signatories have resisted, arguing that the Iranian government has continued to follow the agreement.

Read more: Germany fights to salvage Iran nuclear deal as deadline looms

Infographic showing restrictions on Iran's nuclear program under 2015 accord

End of nuclear deal?

Considered a masterpiece of 21st century diplomacy, the international accord with Iran curbed the Islamic Republic's nuclear program in exchange for an easing of paralyzing sanctions, which were imposed amid fears that it was seeking to develop a nuclear arsenal.

Last month, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that within 60 days, Iran would resume high-level uranium enrichment if signatories to the nuclear deal failed to protect Iran's oil and banking sectors from sanctions.

On Monday, Rouhani said European guarantors still had time to save the deal. "It's a crucial moment, and France can still work with other signatories of the deal and play a historic role to save the deal in this very short time," Rouhani said while meeting with the French ambassador to Iran.

Read more: US policy spreads gloom in Iran

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ls,nm/jm (Reuters, AFP)

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