Iran to Exceed Uranium Enrichment Maximum Despite Calls for Rethink
By Amir Havasi
Iran ignored US and EU warnings Wednesday and announced it will exceed the maximum enrichment level it agreed for uranium within days in response to the failure of the other parties to a 2015 nuclear deal to provide it with promised relief from sanctions.
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.
“On July 7, our enrichment level will no longer be 3.67 percent. We will put aside this commitment. We will increase (the enrichment level) beyond 3.67 percent to as much as we want, as much as is necessary, as much as we need," Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
The enrichment maximum set in the agreement is sufficient for power generation but far below the more than 90 percent level required for a nuclear warhead.
Rouhani stressed that Iran's action would be reversed if the other parties to the nuclear deal made good on their side of the bargain—relief from sanctions.
"We will remain committed to the (nuclear deal) as long as the other parties are committed. We will act on the JCPOA 100 percent the day that the other party acts 100 percent (too).”
Iran has sought to pressure the other parties—Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia—to save the deal.
It announced on May 8 it would no longer respect the limits set on the size of its stockpiles of enriched uranium and heavy water.
It threatened to abandon further nuclear commitments, including exceeding the agreed uranium enrichment maximum from July 7.
Rouhani said Iran will also deliver on its threat to resume construction of a heavy water reactor after July 7 and will bring it to the condition that "according to you, is dangerous and can produce plutonium."
He added the measures can be reversed in "hours" if the other parties "live up to their commitments."
'Playing with Fire'
US President Donald Trump warned Monday that Iran is "playing with fire" after Tehran said it had exceeded the limit set on its enriched uranium stockpile.
Rouhani said it was the US that started the fire and Washington has to "put it out" by returning to the nuclear deal.
His adviser, Hesamodin Ashena, warned Trump against listening to hawks in his administration, hinting aggression against Iran could make him a "one-term president.”
"We have unseated an American president in the past, we can do it again," he tweeted, referring to Jimmy Carter whose bid for a second term was marred by the Iran hostage crisis in 1980.
Israel urged European states to slap sanctions on Iran for abandoning its nuclear commitments.
Russia voiced regret but said the move was a consequence of US pressure, which has pushed the deal towards collapse.
The diplomatic chiefs of Britain, France, Germany and the EU said they were "extremely concerned" and urged Iran to reverse its decision.
Europe has sought to save the nuclear deal by setting up a payment mechanism known as INSTEX which is meant to help Iran skirt the US sanctions.
Rouhani dismissed the mechanism as "hollow", saying it was useless to Iran because it failed to provide for financing of purchases of Iranian oil.
He took issue with the EU for calling on Iran to stay committed to the deal, saying the deal "is either good or bad. If it's good, everyone should stay committed to it," not just Iran.