"The Iranian regime took action today to increase its uranium enrichment," a Monday statement by the Office of the Press Secretary reads. "It was a mistake under the Iran nuclear deal to allow Iran to enrich uranium at any level. There is little doubt that even before the deal's existence, Iran was violating its terms. We must restore the longstanding nonproliferation standard of no enrichment for Iran. The United States and its allies will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons."
— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) July 1, 2019
"Maximum pressure on the Iranian regime will continue until its leaders alter their course of action. The regime must end its nuclear ambitions and its malign behavior," the statement concludes.
The White House statement comes amid news from Tehran that the country had officially violated the terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a multilateral treaty that lowered economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for its adherence to strictly governed maximums for certain nuclear materials. Intended to end an Iranian nuclear weapons program, the agreement allowed for 300 kilograms of refined uranium to be used for scientific and electricity generation purposes at a handful of nuclear power facilities in Iran. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confirmed Monday that Tehran was now in possession of more than 300 kilograms of enriched uranium.
While the US unilaterally left the JCPOA in May 2018 after accusing Tehran of violating the terms of the agreement, the remaining signatories - Russia, China, Germany, France, the UK and European Union - remained in the deal, unconvinced of Washington's claims. However, with increasingly strict US sanctions on trade with Iran being enforced on those countries, the deal has come under increasing strain. Amid US brinksmanship in the Persian Gulf last month, Tehran announced its intention to exceed the terms of the agreement in a bid to pressure the other signatories to curb American aggression.
Materially, the violation itself means little. The uranium enriched by Tehran under the deal could not exceed 3.67% purity, which is useful for a nuclear power plant but useless for powering a nuclear weapon, which demands upwards of 90% purity of uranium-235. A source told the Iranian Students' News Agency Monday that the uranium's purity remained at the JCPOA's designated level and had only exceeded the weight limit set by the deal. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors later confirmed the claim.
Iran has three major nuclear power facilities: the heavy water reactor at Arak, the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant and a uranium enrichment facility at Fordow, Sputnik reported.