Iran to bypass uranium enrichment maximum despite calls for rethink

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran ignored United States (US) and European Union (EU) warnings on Wednesday and vowed to exceed within days the maximum uranium enrichment level it agreed to in the landmark 2015 nuclear accord.

Iran is acting on its May 8 threat to suspend parts of the agreement in response to US President Donald Trump’s reimposition of crippling sanctions after withdrawing from it in May last year.

President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday’s decision was in response to failure by other parties to the deal to keep up their promises and provide Iran relief from the US sanctions.

“On July 7, our enrichment level will no longer be 3.67 per cent. We will put aside this commitment. We will increase (the enrichment level) beyond 3.67 per cent to as much as we want, as much as is necessary, as much as we need,” Rouhani told a cabinet meeting.

The enrichment maximum set in the agreement is sufficient for power generation but far below the more than 90 per cent level required for a nuclear warhead.

“Be careful with the threats, Iran. They can come back to bite you like nobody has been bitten before!” Trump tweeted in response to the announcement.

France warned Tehran that it would “gain nothing” by leaving the deal and said “challenging the agreement would only increase tensions already high” in the Middle East.