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Iran hits back, says it'll breach bar on enriched uranium within 10 days

A series of more intrusive UN inspections under the deal have verified that Iran has been meeting its commitments.

Reuters  |  Dubai/London 


said on Monday it would breach internationally agreed curbs on its stock of low-enriched in 10 days — a move likely to worsen already high tensions with Washington — but it added European nations still had time to save a landmark nuclear deal.

In a sign of concern at Iran's announcement, Germany urged to meet all its obligations under the 2015 accord. Britain said if breached limits agreed under the deal then London would look at “all options”.

Close ally Israel, Iran's arch foe, urged world powers to step up sanctions against swiftly should it exceed the enriched limit.

US-tensions are growing following accusations by President Donald Trump's administration that last Thursday attacked two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, a vital oil shipping route. Iran denies having any role.

Iran's Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, on Monday denied Tehran was behind the attacks and said if the Islamic Republic decided to block the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane it would do so publicly.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said on state TV that “We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment (of uranium) and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will bypass the 300 kg limit.” “Iran's reserves are every day increasing at a more rapid rate.”

Tehran said in May it would reduce compliance with the nuclear pact it agreed with world powers in 2015, in protest at the US’ decision to unilaterally pull out of the agreement and reimpose sanctions last year.

The deal seeks to head off any pathway to an Iranian nuclear bomb in return for the removal of most sanctions.

The accord requires Iran to curb its enrichment capacity, capping Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium at 300 kg of uranium hexafluoride enriched to 3.67 percent or its equivalent for 15 years.

A series of more intrusive U.N. inspections under the deal have verified that Iran has been meeting its commitments.

Urging European signatories to speed up their efforts to salvage the accord, President Hassan Rouhani said its collapse would not be in the interests of the region or the world.

"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.

First Published: Mon, June 17 2019. 23:43 IST