‘Nuclear blackmail’: Iran threatens breach of enriched uranium cap

by WorldTribune Staff, June 17, 2019

Iran’s vow to exceed the cap on its stockpiles of enriched uranium before the end of this month amounts to “nuclear blackmail,” the White House said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant. / Iranian Presidency Office / Mohammad Berno

White House National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis on June 17 called on the international community to step up pressure on Iran after the Islamic Republic said it would further scale back its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

“Iran’s enrichment plans are only possible because the horrible nuclear deal left their capabilities intact,” Marquis said. “President Trump has made it clear that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The regime’s nuclear blackmail must be met with increased international pressure.”

Iranian said last month that it could quickly move to enrich uranium at 20 percent, which be a breach of the 2015 agreement. Once uranium is being enriched at this purity, it is relatively easy to start producing weapons-grade uranium.

The spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, told reporters in Tehrean that Iran would surpass its enriched-uranium limits by June 27. He said Iran would further increase its production in early July, but could reverse both steps if Europe came through with sanctions relief.

“Today, the countdown starts from 10,” Kamalvandi said.

Iran’s announcement came days after the U.S. accused Teheran of orchestrating a second set of attacks on tankers near the Strait of Hormuz. European leaders warned that their efforts to save the nuclear deal would be complicated if Iran was behind the tanker assaults.

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being responsible for last week’s attacks, allegations that Iran has denied. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over the weekend sought to build international support for Washington’s allegation, saying there are “lots of data, lots of evidence” that will be presented to the world soon.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called for urgency in rescuing the nuclear deal, which has been on the brink of collapse since President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord last year.

“The current situation is very critical and France and the other parties to the [deal] still have a very limited opportunity to play their historic role for saving the deal,” Rouhani said, according to a statement on his website. “There’s no doubt that the collapse of the [accord] will not be beneficial for Iran, France, the region, and the world.”

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