News ID: 263998
Published: 0344 GMT January 06, 2020

Iran lifts all nuclear deal limits on uranium enrichment

Iran lifts all nuclear deal limits on uranium enrichment
AP

Iran announced Sunday it would abandon restrictions on enriching uranium, taking a further step back from commitments to a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, maintaining, however, that it would continue cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.

In a statement, Tehran said it would not respect any limits set down in the pact on its nuclear work; be it on the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges or enrichment capacity as well as the level uranium enrichment and the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium, or Iran’s nuclear research and development activities.

“Iran will continue its nuclear enrichment with no restrictions ...and based on its technical needs,” the government statement said.

Iran has steadily overstepped the deal’s limits on its nuclear activities in response to the United States’ withdrawal from the multinational accord in 2018 and Washington’s reimposition of sanctions that have crippled Iran’s oil trade.

Under the nuclear deal, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of most international sanctions.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that all of Iran’s retaliatory steps fitted within Paragraph 36 of the nuclear deal, and that the countermeasures “were reversible upon effective implementation of reciprocal obligations.”

Iran has already ditched some bans on its nuclear activities, including on the purity to which it enriches uranium, its stock of enriched uranium, models of centrifuges it enriches uranium with, and where it enriches uranium.

It has, however, not gone far over the purity allowed – the deal sets a limit of 3.67% and Iran has stayed around 4.5% in recent months, well below the 20% it reached before the deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said its “inspectors continue to carry out verification and monitoring activities” in Iran.

“The IAEA will keep its member states informed of any developments in this regard in a timely manner as appropriate,” the Vienna-based agency said in a statement.

“The IAEA notes that the (Iranian) government statement also said that Iran’s cooperation with the agency will continue as before.”

Relations between Tehran and Washington sharply deteriorated after US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the deal. Iran has criticized European powers for failing to salvage the pact by shielding its economy from US sanctions.

Washington says the “maximum pressure” campaign it started after withdrawing from the nuclear agreement will force Iran to negotiate a more sweeping deal, covering its ballistic missile program and its role in Middle East.

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Monday Trump is confident he could still renegotiate a new nuclear deal with Tehran.

Asked if Trump believes he can still get Iran to renegotiate a new nuclear agreement, Conway told reporters at the White House, “He said he’s open if Iran wants.”

Iran says it will not negotiate a new deal.

A European Diplomat, who declined to be named, said the “deal is all but dead,” but noted that Europe would do everything possible to slow proliferation and “try and save what can be saved.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Iran to “withdraw all measures” not in line with the 2015 agreement.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that it saw no threat of nuclear weapons proliferation after Iran’s decision to abandon limitations on enriching uranium.

The ministry said that Russia, as a party to the pact, remained fully committed to the Iran nuclear deal.

China said on Monday it believes Iran was “forced” to reduce its nuclear commitments.  

The spokesman asserted that Iran has demonstrated restraint under the agreement and “did not violate its obligations.”

China and Russia are among the countries that signed the nuclear deal.

Reuters and AP contributed to this story.

 

   
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