Iran has surpassed the uranium stockpile limits established by a 2015 multinational nuclear deal, according to the Islamic Republic’s semi-official Fars news agency, making good on a threat by Tehran two weeks ago that it would soon breach the restrictions.
The announcement, also reported by the Associated Press, follows a month of steadily escalating tensions between Iran and the U.S., as well as increasingly hostile personal rhetoric between officials in Tehran and President Donald Trump — whose administration withdrew the U.S. in May 2018 from the nuclear accord negotiated under the Obama administration.
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That pact mandated that Iran could stockpile no more than 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium.
The administration in June blamed Tehran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and Trump called off a retaliatory strike on Iran after its Revolutionary Guard claimed responsibility for shooting down a U.S. Navy surveillance drone.
Trump last week leveled a slate of new sanctions against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and several military commanders, and cautioned that an attack by Iran “on anything American” would result in a military response. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani had previously criticized the latest economic penalties and ridiculed the White House as “stricken by a mental disability.”
A spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said in June that Tehran would exceed its uranium restrictions within 10 days, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani issued a similar warning in May. Iran has sought relief from the nuclear deal’s European partners — the United Kingdom, France and Germany — to help blunt the effects of crushing U.S. sanctions, which have crippled the nation’s lucrative oil industry and wounded its economy.
“Today, Iran has to stand against U.S. economic sanctions through domestic production and relying on national potentials,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday, according to the state-run IRNA news agency and the AP.