Iran has boosted its nuclear enrichment to levels not even seen before the JCPOA deal, President Hassan Rouhani has proclaimed, shortly after the Islamic Republic accused three European nations of “selling out” to the US.
“We are enriching more uranium [than] before the deal was reached … Pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress,” Rouhani said in a televised address, as quoted by Reuters.
Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the official name of the 2015 deal – Iran had agreed to enrich uranium only up to 3.67 percent, a process typical for fuel in commercial nuclear power plants, and to stockpile no more than 300kg of this material.
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Iran had been meticulously sticking to the pact’s terms, even after the US unilaterally departed from it in May 2018, re-imposing economic sanctions and ratcheting up bellicose rhetoric against Iran.
However, a year later, Iran announced that it would gradually be scaling back its commitments, insisting that European signatories had failed to do their part of the deal.
In January, Tehran announced that it will move beyond all uranium enrichment limitations set out in the restrictive accord. The dramatic decision was made in response to the assassination General Qassem Soleimani – one of Iran’s most influential military leaders – in a US drone strike earlier in the month.
Upping the ante, the trio of European parties to the deal – France, Germany and the UK – claimed Iran has no legal grounds to do so and triggered a clause that provides for scrutiny of its compliance with the deal.
Rebuking that trio’s move, Tehran vowed “a firm response” if the Europeans’ decision threatens the largely defunct accord. On the other hand, it said that throwing out enrichment limitations was based “on technical needs,” and that Iran isn’t seeking to develop atomic weapons.
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