Iran will break the uranium stockpile limit set by Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in the next 10 days, the spokesman for the country’s atomic agency said Monday. He also warned that Iran could enrich uranium up to 20% — just a step away from weapons-grade levels.
The announcement by Behrouz Kamalvandi, timed for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels, puts more pressure on Europe to come up with new terms for Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal. Kamalvandi said there was still time for European nations to save the accord, the Reuters news agency points out. Europe so far has been unable to offer Iran a way around U.S. sanctions.
Kamalvandi accused Europeans of “killing time” as the clock runs down. “If this condition continues, there will be no deal” anymore, Kamalvandi said. At the same time, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned there’s limited time to the accord. Rouhani made the comment Monday while meeting the new French ambassador to Tehran, Philippe Thiebaud. Rouhani’s website quoted him as saying that the destruction of the deal was not in anyone’s interests. The accord has steadily unraveled since the Trump administration pulled the Unite States out last year and re-imposed tough economic sanctions on Tehran, deeply cutting into its sale of crude oil abroad and sending its economy into freefall. Monday’s development comes in the wake of apparent attacks on oil tankers last week in the Mideast, assaults Washington has blamed on Iran. While Iran has denied being involved, it has used mines in the past against commercial traffic around the crucial Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s crude oil passes. Under terms of the nuclear deal, Iran can keep a stockpile of no more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium. Kamalvandi said that given Iran’s recent decision to quadruple its production of low-enriched uranium, it would pass the 300-kilogram limit on Thursday, June 27. The United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said last month that Iran still remained within its stockpile limits. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said during a recent press conference that Iran had increased its production of enriched uranium production since May 20, however. Reuters reports Amano did not offer further details.