Iran has surpassed a limit on its stockpile of enriched uranium and is preparing to scrap some key components of its nuclear deal next week, two state-run news agencies aligned with hardliners said on Monday in separate reports.
The nation’s stockpile exceeded the 661 pounds of 3.67 percent enriched uranium that had been set as a limit as part of its 2015 nuclear accord, Fars news agency reported, citing an unidentified person. The Islamic Republic is preparing to breach some deal limits next week because it believes remaining signatories have made insufficient progress in delivering on promised economic benefits, according to Tasnim news agency.
Fars, which did not provide any details about its source, is also close to conservative state institutions. Earlier, the official Islamic Republic News Agency, which is run by the government of President Hassan Rouhani, had warned that “unidentified foreign ministry officials” were not legitimate sources of information.
Tensions have spiked in the Persian Gulf since the Trump administration exited the nuclear accord a year ago and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran, prompting a warning that it will ditch elements of the deal unless it’s given an economic lifeline by July 7. Attacks in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway for shipments from the Middle East, and the Iranian downing of an American unmanned drone, have raised concerns of another war in the region.
Iran will begin suspending more of its nuclear commitments from July 7, when a 60-day deadline it laid down in May is due to expire, Tasnim reported, citing unidentified people with knowledge of the matter, but without specifying which steps might be taken.
A meeting held on Friday in Vienna between deal signatories aiming to prevent a collapse of the pact created the perception that Iran could reconsider cutting back on its commitments or even delay such a decision, Tasnim said. But Tehran will “certainly” take this step from next week as its demands remain unmet and a European trade mechanism intended to shield Iranian trade from U.S. sanctions is deemed “insufficient,” according to the report.
Iran was expected to breach the cap low-grade uranium cap on Thursday, though it appeared to back off from its warning after efforts led by European nations to avoid an unraveling of the accord. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors Iran’s nuclear activities, will likely make an announcement on the matter in the coming days, according to Tasnim.