Iran en­riches uranium beyond 2015 cap

Lodi News-Sentinel - - SPORTS - By Ladane Nasseri and Alyza Sebe­nius

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran said it had al­ready be­gun en­rich­ing uranium beyond the cap set in the land­mark 2015 nu­clear deal and threat­ened to boost enrichment to 20% pu­rity, es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions with Eu­ro­pean part­ners who are strug­gling to sal­vage the ac­cord in the face of tight­en­ing U.S. sanctions.

Iran an­nounced on Sun­day that it would aban­don the 3.67% limit for uranium enrichment as it scales back its com­mit­ments in re­sponse to U.S. penal­ties reim­posed af­ter U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with­drew from the agree­ment last year. It said more steps would be taken to scale back com­pli­ance ev­ery 60 days un­less Eu­ro­pean par­ties find ways to en­sure it can con­tinue to trade its oil.

“Ear­lier to­day, the level of enrichment reached 4.5%,” Behrouz Ka­mal­vandi, the spokesman for the Atomic En­ergy Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Iran, told the state-run Ira­nian Stu­dents News Agency. In a sep­a­rate re­port, Ka­mal­vandi said Tehran may con­sider boost­ing enrichment to as much as 20% pu­rity or us­ing more ad­vanced cen­trifuges at a later stage. It’s “among the op­tions con­sid­ered,” he said, ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial Is­lamic Repub­lic News Agency. Cen­trifuges are fast-spin­ning ma­chines used to en­rich uranium.

Uranium must be en­riched to 90% to build weapons, though lower lev­els would be con­sid­ered sig­nif­i­cant.

“Un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Amer­ica will never al­low Iran to ob­tain a nu­clear weapon,” Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence told a con­ven­tion of evan­gel­i­cal Chris­tians who sup­port Is­rael in Wash­ing­ton on Mon­day. He boasted that “we have reim­posed ev­ery last sanc­tion that was lifted” un­der the nu­clear ac­cord.

The lat­est slew of an­nounce­ments from Tehran raises pres­sure on Eu­ro­pean na­tions who’ve urged it to stick with a multi-party deal that the U.S. has shunned but have strug­gled to come up with a ve­hi­cle that would al­low the Ira­ni­ans to keep sell­ing their oil.

Iran is pro­duc­ing oil at the slow­est clip since 1986, mak­ing U.S. sanctions as ef­fec­tive as the dev­as­tat­ing Iraq-Iran war that ended more than 30 years ago. The mea­sures have hit the cur­rency, fu­eled in­fla­tion and set back growth in a coun­try where govern­ment rev­enues are heav­ily de­pen­dent on oil sales.

The “max­i­mum pres­sure” pol­icy, which U.S. of­fi­cials say is de­signed to push the Ira­ni­ans back to the ne­go­ti­at­ing table, has in­stead weak­ened the hand of mod­er­ate Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani and prompted Ira­nian of­fi­cials to dig in.

The lat­est mea­sures are likely to stoke fur­ther fric­tion with the U.S., which has ac­cused the Is­lamic Repub­lic of be­ing be­hind a spate of at­tacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hor­muz ship­ping choke­point. Iran de­nies any wrong­do­ing.

Ten­sions with the U.K. have also spiked in re­cent days af­ter it seized a su­per­tanker off the coast of Gi­bral­tar that it said was car­ry­ing Ira­nian oil to Syria in vi­o­la­tion of Eu­ro­pean and U.S. sanctions against that war-torn coun­try Mediter­ranean coun­try. Iran said the tanker was in in­ter­na­tional wa­ters, not headed to Syria and likened the U.K.’s ac­tion to “piracy.”

The diplo­matic row ex­ac­er­bated fric­tions just as the three Eu­ro­pean na­tions re­main­ing in the nu­clear deal, which in­clude the U.K., seek to pre­vent Iran from walk­ing away.

In the year since the U.S. pulled out of the deal, France, Ger­many and the U.K. have man­aged to de­liver a fi­nan­cial chan­nel known as In­s­tex that aims to pro­tect some trade with Iran — ini­tially only food and medicine — from U.S. penal­ties. But Iran is seek­ing a trade ve­hi­cle that can also be used to buy oil.

AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Iran’s Atomic En­ergy Or­ga­ni­za­tion spokesman Behrouz Ka­mal­vandi, left, and govern­ment spokesman Ali Ra­biei ad­dress the press in Tehran on Sun­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.