Iran to breach uranium enrichment limits set by landmark nuclear deal

Move comes after US president withdrew from 2015 deal

Michael Gruber/Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani 

Tehran has started to increase uranium enrichment beyond the purity threshold it agreed to as part of a landmark nuclear deal, the Iranian government announced Sunday.

The announcement means the country is no longer complying with the agreement it signed with the United States and five other nations in 2015.

The move comes after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal and re-introduced economic sanctions in 2018.

Iran announced a partial withdrawal from the deal in May. Sunday marked the end of a 60-day ultimatum the country gave to the European signatories of the deal to ease sanctions on its banking and oil sectors.
Formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear accord was intended to limit Iran's civilian nuclear program and prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

Iranian government spokesperson Ali Rabiei said Iran would cross the agreed 3.67% threshold on Sunday. He added that future concentration will be based on Iran's needs.

Keeping uranium enrichment to below 3.67% was one of the commitments Iran made in return for the lifting of economic sanctions in 2015. The level is enough for civil use to power parts of the country, but not enough to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran made two other major commitments as part of the deal. It agreed to reduce the number of its centrifuges, the tube-shaped machines that are used to enrich uranium, by two-thirds, and to slash its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98%.

 

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