19:36 GMT26 October 2020
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    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Monday that the country had exceeded the 300 kilogram (660 pound) enriched uranium stockpile limit set out by the 2015 deal, a fact that was then confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency. As explained by President Rouhani, Iran's move is an attempt to save the nuclear deal.

    Iranian authorities have announced that the country's enrichment of uranium would surpass 3.6% "in a few hours", which is above the limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal. Tehran has also vowed to reduce its commitments to the nuclear deal every 60 days if the issue is not resolved. 

    "If these opportunities are not used, no one should doubt our seriousness that the reduction of our commitments [under the JCPOA] will continue every 60 days," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi stressed.

    According to Araghchi, Europe has failed to fulfill its commitments to the JCPOA, while "the doors of diplomacy are still open."

    Araghchi underlined that reducing Iran's commitments under the nuclear accord went "in parallel with saving the JCPOA, and not destroying it, this tendency may lead to discontinuing our participation in the JCPOA."

    However, new initiatives are required, Araghchi said at a joint meeting of the Iranian cabinet and the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Behruz Kamalvandi.

    "We are not ready to stay in the JCPOA at any cost. Today, any steps that we are taking on the uranium enrichment are aimed at saving the JCPOA. Preserving the nuclear deal is a principle for us," government spokesman Ali Rabii said on Sunday.

    The announcement comes six days after Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif announced that Tehran would enrich its uranium beyond the 3.67 per cent level, outlined in the 2015 nuclear deal, and it will maintain enrichment at a level that it considers necessary.

    Commenting on the decision, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani explained that "Iran’s move to reduce its commitments is not aimed at undermining the JCPOA, but also an attempt to save it; because we believe that if we don’t do anything, the deal will be lost." 

    Following the announcement, US President Donald Trump has warned Iran to be "careful with threats" in a tweet. Washington has also urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to hold a special session to address concerns of Iran's nuclear activity, US National Security Adviser John Bolton announced on Friday.

    The EU has been voicing its strong support for the nuclear deal. Particularly, on Saturday, French President Emmanuel Macron had a phone call with his Iranian counterpart in which they agreed to seek conditions for restarting talks between all parties to the nuclear deal by 15 July.

    Russia, a party to the nuclear deal alongside European states, has also reacted to Iran's announcement, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stating that Iran had exceeded its enriched uranium stockpile limits due to US sanctions prohibiting the purchase of excessive uranium from Tehran. 

    On 8 May, Iran announced that it was partially discontinuing its obligations under the JCPOA. The decision came exactly a year after the United States fully withdrew from the nuclear agreement and reimposed wide-ranging sanctions on Iran.

    Iran also gave the other nuclear deal signatories — China, the European Union, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom — an ultimatum, giving them 60 days to shield Tehran from Washington's sanctions or else risk it further reducing its commitments.  

    Earlier, Donald Trump confirmed that the Pentagon will deploy 1,500 more troops to the Middle East amid tensions with Iran. 

    The United States scrapped its sanctions waivers on Iranian oil in May. The waivers were issued last year, after President Trump pulled the US out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and placed tough banking, energy and other restrictions on the country.


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    Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammad Javad Zarif, uranium enrichment, Iran
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