Iran Risks Rift With Europe by Breaching Nuclear Deal Limit

July 2, 2019by Nour Al Ali and Ladane Nasseri
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations on September 18, 2017, in New York. Iran will stop implementing some key provisions of its nuclear deal with major powers, President Hassan Rowhani announced on Wednesday. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/TNS)

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran says it has exceeded limits set on its enriched-uranium stockpile, a move that risks the collapse of the 2015 nuclear accord and raises concerns that a standoff with the U.S. could lead to military action.

“As I was informed, Iran has crossed the 300-kilogram cap according to plan,” the Iranian Students’ News Agency cited Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif as saying. “We have clearly expressed what we are doing and will act upon it,” he said, saying the step was in line with Iran’s rights under the agreement after it was abrogated by the U.S.

The breach is likely to heighten tensions in the Persian Gulf that have spiked since the Trump administration exited the nuclear accord a year ago and re-imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, prompting a warning that Tehran will ditch elements of the deal unless it’s given an economic lifeline by July 7. Attacks in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital waterway for oil shipments from the Middle East, and the Iranian downing of an American drone have raised concerns of another war in the region.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said earlier Monday that if European nations working to salvage the nuclear deal “take more concrete steps, Iran’s action in cutting back on its commitments can be rolled back,” according ISNA.

The move was “carefully calibrated” by authorities and “isn’t in itself dangerous because it can be reversed,” said Sanam Vakil, senior research fellow at Chatham House Middle East and North Africa Program. “It’s the action and reaction and what comes next — it’s a step in what can be a slippery slope.”

International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman Fredrik Dahl confirmed that Iran’s stockpile of low-grade enriched uranium exceeded 300 kilograms (661 pounds).

Iran was expected to breach the cap Thursday, though it had appeared to back off from its warning following efforts led by European nations to preserve the accord. Seven more European countries agreed Friday to support the U.K., Germany and France in rolling out a trade mechanism, known as Instex, that aims to protect trade with Iran from U.S. sanctions. Diplomats said the first transactions using the vehicle had been processed.

European powers opposed President Donald Trump’s decision last year to quit the multinational accord intended to curb Iran’s nuclear development in exchange for easing sanctions. But they have been so far unsuccessful developing effective ways to maintain economic relations that avoid the U.S. banking system and the sanctions that Trump re-imposed.

At the same time, they had called for Iran to continue adhering to the accord, knowing that any violation would put European leaders in a difficult position with regard to U.S. officials.

Tehran “has been escalatory in pushing Europe to challenge the Trump administration” and European nations are “struggling to find a band aid” to keep the agreement alive, Vakil said.

The spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May said the cap announcement was “extremely concerning” but the U.K. was working to keep the deal in place. Still, Britain’s commitment to the accord “relies on Iran complying with the full terms of the deal,” James Slack told reporters.

The nuclear deal was designed to prevent Iran from breaking out and constructing a weapon within a year, as the U.S. and its allies feared. The Arms Control Association, a Washington nonprofit, estimates Iran would need about 1,050 kilograms (2,315 pounds) of uranium enriched to 3.67% to build one bomb. The material would then need to undergo further enrichment.

Trump says he wants to negotiate a better deal that would also restrict Iran’s missile program and support for armed proxies around the region. But Iran says it can’t negotiate by force and while its economy and — more recently — its leaders are targeted by the U.S.

Russia said Monday that Iran’s move to breach the limit on enriched uranium wasn’t a surprise, blaming the U.S.’s policy of maximum pressure.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Iran is confronting “unprecedented and unthinkable” U.S. efforts to throttle its economy, state news service RIA Novosti reported. At the same time, the leading Russian diplomat urged Iran to show restraint, voicing alarm at signals from Tehran it might pull out of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.


With assistance by Golnar Motevalli, Arsalan Shahla, Boris Groendahl, Thomas Penny and Henry Meyer.


©2019 Bloomberg News

Visit Bloomberg News at

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

In The News



Notice: Undefined variable: pc_ID in /var/www/html/thewellnews/wp-content/themes/twentynineteen-child/template-parts/content/content-single.php on line 263

Notice: Undefined variable: primary_cat in /var/www/html/thewellnews/wp-content/themes/twentynineteen-child/template-parts/content/content-single.php on line 268

Boeing Resumes 787 Dreamliner Deliveries
Boeing Resumes 787 Dreamliner Deliveries
April 13, 2021
by TWN Staff

Boeing's massive aircraft assembly facility in North Charleston, S.C. has resumed deliveries of the aerospace giant's 787 Dreamliner passenger jet, after the discovery of structural flaws in some of the planes led to five months of engineering analysis and inspection work. "Our commitment to safety and... Read More

Maryland Enacts Sweeping Reforms to Make Police More Accountable
In The States
Maryland Enacts Sweeping Reforms to Make Police More Accountable
April 13, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Maryland's General Assembly on Saturday enacted the nation’s most sweeping police reform legislation to make officers more accountable to the public. The new rules place more restrictions on use of force and no-knock warrants. Other provisions require body cameras and give civilians a... Read More

Congress to Honor 2nd Capitol Police Officer Slain This Year
Law Enforcement
Congress to Honor 2nd Capitol Police Officer Slain This Year

WASHINGTON (AP) — Slain U.S. Capitol Police Officer William "Billy" Evans will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda on Tuesday during the second such memorial ceremony this year for a force that has edged close to crisis in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection.President... Read More

Biden Aims for Bipartisanship But Applies Sly Pressure
White House
Biden Aims for Bipartisanship But Applies Sly Pressure

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has begun publicly courting Republicans to back his sweeping infrastructure plan, but his reach across the aisle is intended just as much to keep Democrats in line as it is a first step in an uphill climb to any bipartisan... Read More

US Recommends 'Pause' for J&J Vaccine Over Clot Reports
US Recommends 'Pause' for J&J Vaccine Over Clot Reports

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is recommending a "pause" in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they... Read More

Biden Wants Infrastructure Deal, But GOP Doubts Persist
Biden Wants Infrastructure Deal, But GOP Doubts Persist

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden wants Congress to know he's sincere about cutting a deal on infrastructure, but Republican lawmakers have deep-seated doubts about the scope of his proposed package, its tax hikes and Biden's premise that this is an inflection point for the U.S.... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top