Tuesday 16 July 2019

Iran turns up the heat with latest violation of nuclear deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photo: Vladimir Voronin/AP
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Photo: Vladimir Voronin/AP

Raf Sanchez

Iran will take its most significant step in breaching the nuclear deal this weekend by casting aside a limit on uranium enrichment levels, its president said yesterday.

Hassan Rouhani said that on Sunday, his government would stop respecting a clause in the deal which limits Iran to enriching uranium beyond the low level of 3.67pc.

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"On July 7, our enrichment level will no longer be 3.67pc," he said. "We will increase beyond 3.67pc to as much as we want, as much as is necessary, as much as we need."

The move is part of an Iranian strategy of slowly ratcheting up violations of the deal as a way of pressuring European states to do more to deliver the economic benefits Tehran was promised during the 2015 negotiations.

Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran. Iran has now started incrementally violating sections of the agreement.

Mr Rouhani also said Iran would step up production of heavy water at the Arak reactor, which could eventually produce the type of plutonium needed for a nuclear weapon. There is no sign Iran is seeking to build one and even with the violations it would be more than a year away from being able to build a bomb.

However, the decisions by Mr Trump to abandon the deal and by Iran to start backing out of its terms have alarmed European diplomats, who believe the deal is in danger of collapse and the prospects of war are increasing.

Mr Rouhani said Iran would go back to abiding by the agreement if it got economic benefits it was promised.

France warned Iran against making further violations. "Iran will gain nothing by leaving the Vienna accord," a foreign ministry spokesman said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)


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