June 18, 2019 08:13
Iran's atomic energy agency said Monday the country would soon surpass the limit on the amount of enriched uranium it is allowed to keep under the 2015 international agreement aimed at restraining its nuclear weapons program.
In remarks to reporters carried on state television, agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said, "Today the countdown to pass the 300 kg reserve of enriched uranium has started and in 10 days time -- June 27 -- we will pass this limit."
But he said Iran would be open to going back to observing the limit if it gets help from other signatories to the agreement in circumventing U.S. sanctions on its vital oil industry.
In early May, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran, in retaliation for last year's unilateral U.S. withdrawal from the accord, would stop observing restrictions on its stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water that was agreed to under the 2015 nuclear deal.
Washington then imposed tough new economic sanctions on Tehran in the expressed hope of negotiating a new pact with Tehran. But the United Nations atomic watchdog agency says Iran has continued to meet terms of the 2015 pact. While Washington has pulled out of the deal, the other signatories to the agreement have not.
French President Emmanuel Macron said he regretted the Iranian announcement, urging Tehran "to behave in a way that is patient and responsible." Britain said if Iran exceeded the nuclear limits it would consider "all options."
Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program under the 2015 deal to allay concerns about its alleged work on nuclear weapons, and in return it won relief from economic sanctions that had badly hurt its economy. The U.S. withdrawal from the deal left Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany to figure out how to keep the agreement with Iran alive.
But Iran contends that the other nations have not done enough to maximize the economic benefits of sanctions relief while adhering to the nuclear program limits on both the amount of enriched uranium it can hold as well as the level to which it can enrich the material.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has blamed Iran for attacks on two ships passing through the Strait of Hormuz last week and other attacks in recent weeks in the Mideast, claims Tehran has denied. Washington also declared Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization.
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