Iran will “within a few hours” start enriching uranium beyond the 3.67% limit. The spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency (OIEA) announced this morning. In so doing, the Islamic Republic is violating a commitment to the agreement it signed with the major powers four years ago.
“Within a few hours”, after settling some technical details, Iran will resume uranium enrichment above the 3.67% limit, said spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi. It appears to be an enrichment of up to 5% of uranium intended for the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Iran claims that it will no longer have to comply with the international agreement on the limitation of its nuclear program if other parties do not.
The 2015 agreement limits Iran’s nuclear capacity. For example, it says that Tehran may not enrich more than 300 kilograms of uranium to the upper limit of 3.67 percent. That level is sufficient for civil activities – such as the generation of electricity and medical research – but is not sufficient for the development of a bomb.
The agreement between Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany has been on the verge since US President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally withdraw his country and re-introduce sanctions against the Islamic regime.
Iran is being hit hard economically by the sanctions. The ‘nuclear deal’ that was concluded in 2015, on the other hand, would release the country from its isolated position and would smooth the economy. China, Germany, France, Great Britain, and Russia want to save the agreement, but they do not know how to limit the damage that American sanctions inflict on Iran.
By the way, Iran has today threatened to withdraw from the agreement “within sixty days”. According to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Abbas Araghchi, this can only be avoided if “a solution” is found beforehand for the impasse in which the agreement has ended up. “We hope that we can find a solution within sixty days. Otherwise, we will start the third phase,” said Araghchi.
At the American request, the international nuclear energy agency IAEA will hold an emergency session next Wednesday on the new breach of the international agreement.