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Iran set to exceed nuclear deal uranium enrichment cap

The Islamic republic also threatened to abandon more commitments unless a solution is found with parties to the 2015 agreement.

AFP | Tehran |

Iran said on Sunday it was set to breach the uranium enrichment cap set by an endangered nuclear deal within hours as it seeks to press signatories into keeping their side of the bargain.

The Islamic republic also threatened to abandon more commitments unless a solution is found with parties to the 2015 agreement.

The move to start enriching uranium above the agreed maximum purification level of 3.67 per cent comes despite opposition from the European Union and the United States, which has quit the deal.

President Hassan Rouhani’s order to exceed the threshold would be implemented “in a few hours” after the last technical details were sorted, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said live on state television.

Rouhani initially flagged Tehran’s intentions on May 8, exactly a year on from US President Donald Trump unilaterally abandoning the multilateral deal.

He has said the move is in response to a failure by remaining state signatories to keep their promise to help Iran workaround biting sanctions reimposed by the US in the second half of last year.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi on Sunday singled out Iran’s declining oil sales as one of the main issues that needed to be solved, or Tehran would further step back from its commitments.

“We hope we can reach a solution otherwise after 60 days we will take the third step as well,” he said, without specifying what the further measures would involve.

French President Emmanuel Macron told Rouhani of his “strong concern” over the risk of weakening the nuclear agreement and the consequences that would follow during a telephone call Saturday, according to a statement from the Elysee Palace.

However, the two leaders agreed to “explore by July 15 the conditions for a resumption of dialogue between all parties”, the statement said, adding that Macron would consult with Iranian authorities and international partners to bring about the “necessary de-escalation” of the situation over the coming days.

It is not yet clear how far the Islamic republic will boost enrichment.