03:50 GMT09 July 2020
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    Iran began reducing its observance of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal in May, citing the lack of progress from its other signatories on overcoming the crushing US sanctions placed on Tehran by Washington after the Trump administration unilaterally scrapped its commitments under the deal in 2018.

    Iran will continue to reduce its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal until it reaches the "desired result," Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has announced.

    "We will continue the reduction of commitments," Khamenei said, speaking to commanders from Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards military formation on Wednesday. Khamenei promised that Tehran would reduce its JCPOA commitments "with utmost seriousness," it was stated on Khamenei's official website.

    "The responsibility is with the Atomic Energy Organization and they must carry out the reductoin...in a precise, complete and comprehensive way and continue until the time we reach a desired result," the leader said, according to Reuters.

    The Iranian leader also commented on the "failure" of the US policy of "maximum pressure" against his country, which he said was aimed at forcing Iran to "surrender." According to Khamenei, the US has not succeeded with its efforts to pressure Iran, and the policy will ultimately "fail."

    Khamenei also took aim at US military spending, suggesting that the Pentagon's large budget has not contributed to the US's ability to win wars. He also accused the US of spending "billions" of dollars arming terrorists.

    "The more our enemies spend, the more they face losses. How much did you spend in Afghanistan and still face losses? How about Syria and Iraq, etc.? They say 'we destroyed ISIS' [Daesh*]. What on Earth?! You didn't destroy it, you created it. Syrian, Iraqi, Lebanese and Iranian youth destroyed it," Khamenei said.

    "The US spent billions to arm [Daesh]. They continue to support them and when [Daesh] is surrounded, the US flies its helicopters to open ways for [Daesh] members to escape. The head of a country told me they could clearly observe through satellites that [Daesh] forces sold oil while backed by the US forces," the Iranian leader added.

    Nuclear Deal Tensions

    Earlier this year, Iran began reducing its commitments under the JCPOA, a 2015 nuclear deal promising Iran sanctions relief and the return of tens of billions of dollars' worth of assets frozen in banks abroad in exchange for transparency from Tehran on its nuclear endeavours. Along with Iran and the United States, the deal was negotiated by Russia, China, the UK, France, Germany and the European Union.

    In May 2018, the Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA, and began reintroducing tough banking and energy-related sanctions against Tehran. The US also threatened to slap secondary sanctions against any country buying oil from Iran. In May 2019, Iran announced that it would start reducing its commitments under the JCPOA, based on its remaining signatories' apparent inability to create financial and economic mechanisms to take the sting out of US sanctions and restrictions.

    Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that Iran had begun installing advanced centrifuges which would allow it to increase the enrichment levels of its uranium stocks.

    Under the terms of the JCPOA, Iran is limited to no more than 660 pounds of uranium with a concentration of U-235 of no more than 3.67 percent. Iran formally breached these terms in July when it began producing uranium at 5 percent enrichment levels. However, Iran's enrichment levels remain well below those required to produce a nuclear weapon. For example, the nuclear bomb the US dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 had a U-235 enrichment level of about 80 percent. Today, scientists classify 'weapons grade' uranium as that with a U-235 concentration of 85-90 percent or more.

    Despite walking back on the JCPOA commitments, Iranian officials have continued to maintain that they have no interest in pursuing nuclear weapons. In July, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander said nuclear weapons "have no place in Islam," and that "Islam never approves of weapons of mass destruction."

    Last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the JCPOA's European signatories of "paralysis" in their inability to fulfill their obligations under the nuclear deal, and called on the countries to muster the "will to forge [an] independent path," instead of "parroting absurd US claims and requests inconsistent wit hthe JCPOA."

    *A terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.

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