Iran’s uranium enrichment breach puts renewed pressure on fraying agreement

World Today

FILE – This Jan. 15, 2011 file photo, shows a part of Arak heavy water nuclear facilities, near the central city of Arak, 150 miles (250 kilometers) southwest of the capital Tehran, Iran. Iran acknowledged Monday, July 1, 2019, it had broken the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by the 2015 nuclear deal, marking its first major departure from the unraveling agreement a year after the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the accord. (Mehdi Marizad/Fars News Agency via AP, File)

The international deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is under renewed pressure.

That’s after Tehran announced it had breached the agreement, putting itself back on the path to producing weapons-grade uranium.

CGTN’s Owen Fairclough reports.

The United Nations atomic watchdog has confirmed Iran breached uranium production limits – a violation of the landmark international deal for Tehran to suspend its nuclear weapons program.

And Iran’s Foreign Minister warned it would go further.

“Our next step will be enriching uranium beyond the 3.67% allowed under the deal,” Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters in Tehran.

Going beyond that percentage would put Iran on the path to producing highly-enriched uranium — retaliation for the United States withdrawing from the agreement and reimposing punitive sanctions.

The White House accuses Iran of trying to destabilize the Middle East through proxy conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

Hostilities have escalated quickly.

Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone last month prompted U.S. President Trump to order – and then call off – retaliatory air strikes.

Trump says he’s in no rush with Iran, having imposed punitive sanctions.

But leading European countries are in a hurry to try to somehow incentivize Iran to remain in a nuclear deal that originally promised sanctions relief.

Israel, aligning itself with Gulf Arab states against Iran, reminded Europe of the small print.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, said: “You committed to act the moment Iran violates the nuclear agreement. You committed to activate the mechanism for automatic sanctions that was set in the UN Security Council.”

Once triggered, a dispute resolution process could end with UN sanctions reimposed within 65 days.

Reza Akbari on Iran breaching 2015 nuclear pact

CGTN’s Asieh Namdar speaks with Reza Akbari with the Institute for War & Peace Reporting about Iran breaching the 2015 nuclear agreement.