Tehran, July 1: Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif declared that Iran has breached the limit of its enriched uranium stockpile set in a 2015 deal with major powers.
Zarif confirmed that Iran had exceeded the relevant limit of 300 kg of uranium hexafluoride (UF6), but Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi countered,saying, Iran’s steps to decrease its commitments to the nuclear deal were “reversible”.
The International Atomic Energy agency (IAEA) said that its inspectors were verifying whether Iran had accumulated more enriched uranium than allowed.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated that his country would not bow to foreign pressure, the state-run IRNA news agency reported Monday.
“Today, Iran has to stand against U.S. economic sanctions through domestic production and relying on national potentials,” he said, without making any reference to the nuclear program.
The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, declined to say Monday whether Iran had broken through the limit.
“Our inspectors are on the ground and they will report to headquarters as soon as the (low-enriched uranium) stockpile has been verified,” the agency said.
The move is thought to be Tehran’s first major breach of the accord since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
The deal, which Iran had signed with the P5+1 group of countries — the US, Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany — in July 2015 had limited its uranium enrichment in exchange for an easing of international sanctions.
“According to my information, Iran has surpassed the 300 kg limit (in producing low-enriched uranium) and we had already announced (that we were planning to do) this,” Zarif, one of the chief architects of the deal, told ISNA news agency.
Calling Tehran’s latest moves “reversible”, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said: “We told the Europeans that if more practical, mature and complete measures were taken, Iran’s reduction (to its) commitments could be reversed. Otherwise, we will continue.”
Tehran had threatened to surpass the maximum permitted amount of enriched uranium in retaliation to crippling US economic sanctions.
During talks in Vienna on Friday, European countries still party to the deal made a last-ditch effort to persuade Iran to back off from plans to breach the limit.
Earlier, Fars news agency cited a source as saying that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors had measured the stockpile on Monday and confirmed that it had surpassed the cap.
An IAEA spokesman told the BBC that it was aware of the reports, adding: “Our inspectors are on the ground and they will report to headquarters as soon as the LEU (low-enriched uranium) stockpile has been verified.”
Iran said in May that it had quadrupled its production of low enriched uranium. The announcement increased tensions in the region and set off a series of provocative moves by Washington and Tehran.