Iran to raise uranium enrichment beyond nuclear deal limits

From left to right, spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency Behrouz Kamalvandi, Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei and Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, attend a press briefing in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, July 7, 2019. The deputy foreign minister says that his nation considers the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers to be a “valid document” and seeks its continuation. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran announced Sunday it will increase its uranium enrichment to an unspecified level beyond the terms of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, breaking another limit set under the accord and furthering heightening tensions between Tehran and the U.S.

Setting another unspecified 60-day deadline for the deal, Iran took further steps toward pressuring Europe while urging further diplomacy to save an agreement that President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the U.S. from a year ago.

Hopes for saving the faltering deal appear increasingly dim, however, as the Europeans have been unable to offer Iran any effective way around U.S. sanctions that block Tehran’s oil sales abroad and target its top officials. But Iran’s recent measures, while of concern to nuclear non-proliferation experts, could be easily reversible if Europeans offer Iran the sanctions relief it seeks.

Tensions began rising in May when the U.S. rushed thousands of additional troops, an aircraft carrier, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and advanced fighter jets to the Mideast.

Mysterious oil tanker blasts near the Strait of Hormuz, attacks by Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen on Saudi Arabia and Iran shooting down a U.S. military drone have raised fears of a wider conflict engulfing a region crucial to global energy supplies.

In Sunday’s news conference, Iranian officials said the new level of uranium enrichment would be reached later in the day, but did not provide a percentage. Under the nuclear deal, the cap for enrichment was set at 3.67%, a percentage closely monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog.

“Within hours, the technical tasks will be done and enrichment above 3.67% will begin,” Iran nuclear agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said. “We predict that the IAEA measurements early tomorrow morning will show that we have gone beyond 3.67%.”

The IAEA said it was aware of Iran’s comments and “inspectors in Iran will report to our headquarters as soon as they verify the announced development.”

Ali Akbar Velayati, an aide to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, made remarks in a video Saturday about Iran’s need for 5% enrichment. Bushehr, Iran’s only nuclear power plant, is now running on imported fuel from Russia that’s enriched around 5%.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif sent a letter to EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini outlining the steps it had taken, said Abbas Araghchi, a deputy foreign minister. Discussions with European powers are continuing and ministerial-level talks are planned later this month, he said.

“We will give another 60-day period, and then we will resume the reduction of our commitments,” Araghchi said, without elaborating.

On Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron told his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, in a phone call that he is trying to find a way by July 15 to resume the dialogue between Iran and Western partners.

Kamalvandi also stressed that Iran will continue to use only slower, first-generation IR-1 centrifuges to increase enrichment, as well as keep the number of centrifuges in use under the 5,060-limit set by the nuclear deal. Iran has the technical ability to build and operate advanced centrifuges that work faster, but is barred from doing so under the deal.

“For the enrichment we are using the same machines with some more pressure and some special technical work,” he said. “So we don’t have an increase in the number of centrifuges for this purpose.”

But Kamalvandi stressed that Iran is able to continue enrichment “at any speed, any amount and any level.”

“For the enrichment we are using the same machines with some more pressure and some special technical work,” he said. “So we don’t have an increase in the number of centrifuges for this purpose.”

Sunday’s announcement about uranium enrichment came a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal. Iran has repeatedly warned Europe in recent weeks that it would begin walking away from an accord neutered by a maximalist American campaign of sanctions.

The decision to ramp up uranium enrichment came less than a week after Iran acknowledged breaking the deal’s 300-kilogram (661-pound) limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile.

Experts warn higher enrichment and a growing stockpile narrow the one-year window Iran would need to have enough material for an atomic bomb, something Iran denies it wants but the deal prevented.

Enriched uranium at the 3.67% level is enough for peaceful pursuits but is far below weapons-grade levels of 90%.

Iran denies it seeks nuclear weapons, but the nuclear deal sought to prevent that as a possibility by limiting enrichment and Iran’s stockpile of uranium.

International reaction came swiftly, including from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who long has described Iran and its nuclear program as a threat to his country. He called on world powers to impose “snapback sanctions” on Iran.

“It is a very, very dangerous step,” Netanyahu said. “I’m asking you, not to provoke but out of joint knowledge of history and what happens when aggressive totalitarian regimes can cross the threshold toward things that are very dangerous to us all. Take the steps that you promised. Enact the sanctions.”


Associated Press writers Kiyoko Metzler in Vienna and Aron Heller in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

17 thoughts on “Iran to raise uranium enrichment beyond nuclear deal limits

  1. No big surprise. For one, a person would have to be naive if they believed that Iran had stuck to the deal. All they’re doing is going public about what they already have, and stating their intention to make even more. For another, it’s a ploy to force the U.S. back into that nightmare of a nuclear arms deal. If we don’t come back to the table, they will say that anything that happens next is our fault, and not theirs. Honestly, we would be more than justified in dropping two or three MOABs on Tehran, and a few other strategic points, and then sitting back and waiting for the dust to settle.

  2. Thanks for your comment TEP336!

    This is the truth of the Iranian leaders, they lie through their teeth as they have been for decades now. But oddly enough most of the world seems to believe them when they lie! But they don’t seem to believe these Iranian leaders when they say that they want to annihilate Israel and America, very interesting. The world is so blind and deceived!

    God bless! Maranatha!

  3. Yep, Satan has done his job well. Too many refuse to believe the truth about the dangers Islam poses. You should see people lose their minds when told that the Antichrist of Revelation is really the Muslim Messiah, Imam al-Mahdi. They become utterly confused, because Islam is the Religion of Peace. 🙄

  4. Thanks for your comment TEP336!

    Yes Islam is very dangerous and leading many astray. For example Muslims say that Islam is the religion of peace, however the name actually means submission, it’s the religion of submission not of peace. I don’t believe that the Antichrist will be a Muslim, although I know that many believe that he will be, but I don’t plan on being here when he arrives on the scene.

    God bless! Maranatha!

  5. For me, the jury’s still out on the Rapture. As for the Mahdi as Antichrist, the evidence is very strong. In either case, Islam is hugely dangerous and the best defense against it is knowledge.

  6. Thanks for your comment TEP336!

    I am a 100% believer in the Pre-Tribulation rapture of the church. The bible is very clear on a rapture of the church, and I believe that it is also clear on a pre-Trib rapture as well. Guess we’ll find out soon enough!

    God bless! Maranatha!

  7. Why are you guys always indulging the religion in politics?? Cnt you just be rational and call it a filthy or dangerous Iranian strategy? Why pulling the religion Islam in between? It’s sad to see people talking about religion so confidently when they actually know nothing about it!!!!!

  8. Why are you guys always indulging the religion in politics?? Cnt you just be rational and call it a filthy or dangerous Iranian strategy? Why pulling the religion Islam in between? It’s sad to see people talking about religion so confidently when they actually know nothing about it!!!!!

  9. It’s on my “things to study” list. My early training didn’t cover it one way or another, so I can’t really form an opinion on it until I’ve looked at both sides.

  10. You are also most welcome to pop on over to my blog and take a stroll through my posts. You’ll find that I’ve already done a lot of homework on Islam. I’ve studied it in parallel with my own Christian faith for four years now.

  11. Thanks for your comment Zarbakht Bilal!

    Are you talking about the “Islamic Republic of Iran”? The nation that is headed by Islamic religious leaders, the same nation that threatens to annihilate America (the Great Satan) and Israel (the Little Satan)? The country that is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, the nation that is enriching uranium in order to build a nuclear bomb so that they can drop it on Israel? That nation?! The same nation that tortures, abuses, and imprisons people for being Christian? That same nation? You’ve got to be kidding me! And the very same religion which says to kill Christians and Jews, that peaceful religion? Excuse me for noticing! Perhaps you should do some research yourself and see the truth of what is happening in the world around you.

    Be rational? Perhaps you should tell that to the Iranian leaders! The same ones that are supporting Hezbollah and Hamas, the ones that threaten Israel on a daily basis.

    God bless! Maranatha!

  12. Well, I must really appreciate it then. I am a Muslim myself and I absolutely respect Christianity, Buddhism, Jew ism and Hinduism despite all the differences these religions hold against each other. I never blamed Jews for the brutal bloodshed they are causing against innocent people of Palestine. I never blamed Buddhists for ethnic cleansing and genocide of Muslims in Rohingya, Myanmar. I never blamed Christians or the respectable Church for all the evil doings of Trump or whosoever. All religions are respectful and no religion teaches oppression, radicalism, and terrorism. I hope you can definitely consult any Muslim Priest to get proper knowledge as Islam is quite a deep religion with a HUGE NUMBER OF MISINTERPRETATORS like Terrorists. Mere studying about a religion can never give you a clear picture. ( just a humble suggestion)

  13. We are also Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Why aren’t we doing any such thing then? If Islam is dangerous, All Muslim countries must be joining hands by now to destroy the whole world. Its not about religion please stop hurting other people’s feelings and personal affiliations. Everyday, Jews and Christians are making Islamic cartoons, making fun of our prophets. Why didn’t a Muslim ever made fun of Christian and Jewish Gods, Angels, Bible, the Holy Trinity and other religious symbols? Because no religion is bad, behavior of people cannot be justified by blaming their religion please… This is the behavior that leads to ethnic cleansing, Islamophobia, and genocides. Its sad 😦

  14. Thank you so much dear!
    First of all, I am a Muslim Myself and I belong to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Now if the word “Islamic Republic” is bothering you so much, let me tell you that our country is also an Islamic Republic, but we are not causing any conflicts and troubles for other regions in this world. So the word Islamic Republic does not give you a license to humiliate all the Muslims and the religion Islam in the first place.

    Secondly, I am not in favor of Iran, and am in fact strictly against their decision of uranium enrichment. It is a very extreme and a highly unlawful decision of theirs.

    Thirdly, I am a Muslim so I know the teachings of my religion better than you. I hate the fact that the ignorant people, without reading our holy Quran, just assume things just because they either feel like it, or either they want to think that way. Can you please quote any verse from Holy Quran (our religious book) that says that you should kill Christians, or Jews?
    Yes, please! Since you made a very strong claim, can you please cite it? You know you should be very careful while talking about someone’s religion. Please guys, learn some tolerance and respect for other religions and their teachings.

    And what are you talking about??? We Muslims are the one that are being constantly humiliated and killed by Christians and Jews in Palestine, Rohingya and don’t go any further, just refer to the ST. CHRIST CHURCH MOSQUE incident where innocent Muslim men, women, old and children were killed. What did those women and children do?? Do you, for once, feel pity for them? Do you even consider them as Muslims? Jews and Christians make fun of our religion every now and then by making cartoons of our beloved prophet and burning our Holy Book. On the contrast no Muslim ever made cartoons and fun of the holy Trinity, Alter, Bible, and other religious symbols of Christians and Jews.

    See, I am not in favor of Iran or its filthy play and policies, but I feel so hurt because what you said about Muslims. I am a Muslim myself and I am in no way a threat to anyone either in my community or outside it. Its so so humiliating. Please respect religions. No religion is bad! I PLEAD!

    You know Islam is the religion with a lot of mis-interpreters like the “TERRORISTS’ and “ISIS” and AL-QAEDA. If you think they’re Muslims, trust me you’re an ignorant child of your god. Please, Please, Please I plead that you’re running a social platform! Don’t propagate a negative and wrong information to the people. You have a public responsibility so please make sure that your platform isn’t hurting anyone because of the humiliating and false allegations against them. Please.

  15. Religion is an aspect of political belief, but it isn’t the sole decider in the matter. There are quite a few conservative voices in the U.S. found among atheists and agnostics. It’s really a matter of what makes sense from the standpoint of liberty and individual rights.

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