UN Watchdog Verifies Iran Exceeded Cap On Uranium Stockpile

Clay Curtis
July 2, 2019

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told the semi-official news agency ISNA that Iran had "crossed the 300-kilogram limit" on its stockpile of uranium enriched up to 3.67%.

Netanyahu warned that Iran's move to break limits on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium is a "significant step toward making a nuclear weapon".

On Tuesday, Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif gave short shrift to the USA claim that Tehran had been breaching the 2015 nuclear deal for a long time. "So, no message to Iran whatsoever", Trump said.

The White House charge that Iran probably was in violation of the nuclear deal before and after it was reached in 2015 sharply contrasts with CIA Director Gina Haspel's testimony in January to the Senate Intelligence Committee that "at the moment, technically, they are in compliance".

"Deeply anxious by Iran's announcement that it has broken existing nuclear deal obligations".

Tehran's announcement is likely to ramp up tensions with Washington.

Under terms of the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to have less than 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of uranium enriched to a maximum of 3.67%.

"We call on our Iranian colleagues to show sangfroid, not to give in to emotions by any means and observe key provisions of the IAEA Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocol to this agreement", Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. Trump administration officials, who are closely watching the situation, have vowed to sanction these backdoor systems if Europe agrees to engage in them with Iran.

He added that Iran was facing "unprecedented and unthinkable" USA sanctions, including an oil trade embargo, which are an attempt to "strangle" the country.

But Iran has said it may go further, by enriching uranium to a grade of as much as 20 percent if it does not see sanctions relief by a July 7 deadline - a move that would force Europe to take a tougher stance and which could trigger its own sanctions. However, foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said that the actions that Iran had taken were "reversible".

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Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were on the ground attempted to verify Iran's claims, the agency said.

Zarif's United States counterpart Mike Pompeo accused Iran of using its nuclear program "to extort the global community and threaten regional security".

Iranian officials have said they could easily reverse any measures they take that breach the terms of the deal if Europe, Russia and China move to soften the impact of USA sanctions.

The French leader said he would continue in the coming days to work towards a resolution of the standoff between Iran and the United States that would see Tehran "fully respect its obligations and continue to benefit from the economic advantages of the (2015) deal".

He said Iran would "reverse" its decision "as soon as E3 abide by their obligations" - referring to the European partners of the deal Britain, France and Germany.

But Iran is taking a gamble that it can step over certain lines and that European powers, desperate to preserve the deal, will keep backing down or offering concessions.

"We had previously announced this and we have said it transparently what we are going to do", Zarif said. They promised they would automatically enact sanctions that were imposed by the UN Security Council.

Hunt is one of two contenders to replace Theresa May as prime minister.

China, like France a signatory to the deal, said it regretted Iran's move but urged all parties to exercise restraint and said the USA policy of increasing pressure on Iran was the "root cause of the current tensions".

"The U.S. pressure against the Islamic Republic of Iran does not come from the U.S. power and our weakness".

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