Iran to breach nuclear deal with move to restart reactor
Iran is to restart activities at its controversial Arak heavy-water reactor, the head of the country's nuclear agency announced yesterday.
Heavy water can be used to make plutonium, an important ingredient in the construction of nuclear weapons.
Under the 2015 nuclear accord, Tehran agreed to re-purpose the facility towards research and medicine.
But in the latest escalation of the country's nuclear ambitions, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, said it would renege on the commitment, according to the semi-official ISNA news agency.
Tehran has been gradually reducing its compliance with the nuclear deal signed with global powers after Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the US out last year.
The Arak announcement came as Iranian officials met with the remaining signatories to the joint comprehensive plan of action, including the UK, France and Germany, in Vienna to try to salvage the accord.
The decision is part of Iran's strategy of "maximum pressure pushback", Dr Sanam Vakil, senior research fellow in the Middle East North Africa programme at Chatham House, told the 'Daily Telegraph'.
Tensions between Iran and other signatories, particularly the UK, are high following the British seizure of an Iranian-flagged tanker off Gibraltar in early July and the seizure by Iranian Revolutionary Guards of a British-flagged tanker two weeks later.
The royal navy destroyer HMS Duncan arrived in the Gulf yesterday to help the frigate HMS Montrose protect merchant shipping. "Merchant ships must be free to travel lawfully and trade safely, anywhere in the world," said Ben Wallace, defence secretary.