The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency confirmed on Monday that Tehran has breached a stockpile limit for low-level enriched uranium allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Director General Yukiya Amano told the United Nations agency’s board of governors that it had verified the stockpile of enriched uranium permitted under the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, exceeded the agreed upon limit.
Following up on a threat from two weeks ago, Iran said it had passed the limit of 300 kilograms because Europe has not applied enough pressure to undo crippling U.S. sanctions. The JCPOA was struck between Iran and the five permanent, veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany and the European Union.
But the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the deal a year ago, assuring allies that it was making the world a safer place. Then the United States began reimposing harsh economic sanctions, undoing the years of complex, global diplomacy that led to the JCPOA.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned his nation might further reduce its compliance with the deal, but said the latest measure was “reversible,” Iran’s state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
Under the deal, Iran is limited to enriching uranium to 3.67 percent, enough to fuel a commercial nuclear power plant. Weapons grade uranium has to be enriched to around 90 percent. Iran previously enriched uranium to 20 percent, which cuts in half the time it takes to get to 90 percent.
In May, Tehran announced plans to resume enriching uranium at higher levels if world powers would not accept new terms under the JCPOA, which required Iran to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of U.N.-brokered international sanctions.