Fri, 18 Oct 2019

Tehran [Iran], Jun 17 (ANI): Iran on Monday said it will "drastically" increase the production of low-level enriched uranium after passing the limit of the stockpile permitted by the 2015 nuclear deal in 10 days, a move that is expected to heighten tension with the US.

Quoting Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesperson for Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI), Al Jazeera reported that Tehran would reach the allowed 300 kilogram level of enriched uranium mandated by the deal on June 27.

"We will go further from that ceiling, not only that but we will also increase production drastically. After we pass the limit of 300 kg the pace and the speed of enriched uranium production at the lower rate will also increase," Kamalvandi said.

Iran stopped complying with some elements of the nuclear agreement -- the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in May, a year after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the deal.

Under the deal, Iran had agreed to limit its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

On May 8, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had said that the remaining signatories to the deal -- the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China and Russia, had 60 days to implement their promises to protect Iran's oil and banking sectors from re-imposed US sanctions.

On Kamalvandi's remarks, Ali Fathollah Nejad from the Brookings Doha Center said, "The aim is to increase the bargaining leverage and to put increasing pressure on Europe."He said, "This is more symbolic than substantial because Iran is not going to commit any violation. They are going to go as far as possible to the threshold but will not break it because they will lose European support. And for now, this is not the Iranian strategy."Kamalvandi said that they were still waiting for officials to tell them what the second phase of the strategy for reducing commitments to the JCPOA would be but said the deal could still be salvaged.

"There is still time ... if European countries act," the spokesperson noted.

Rouhani had said Iran could resume high-level enrichment if world powers did not uphold their part of the nuclear deal.

Tehran will increase uranium enrichment levels "based on the country's needs", KamalvandiMeanwhile, Mojtaba Zonnour, the chairman of the Iranian Parliament's Nuclear Committee, reportedly said that Tehran would consider leaving the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) altogether if Europe's JCPOA signatories fail to do their share of saving the agreement before the 60-day deadline that ends next month.

Monday's announcement comes amid rising tension in the Gulf region after a series of unexplained attacks on oil vessels and infrastructure in the region, which Washington has blamed on Tehran. (ANI)

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