IRAN must “immediately stop and reverse” its plan to increase its uranium enrichment in breach of its nuke deal, the UK has warned.
Tehran’s announcement that it will begin enriching the element, crucial in the development of nuclear weapons, above a limit of 3.67 per cent has sparked a furious reaction from the Foreign Office.
4 A former UN chief said Iran could have nuclear weapons in six monthsCredit: AFP or licensors
While the US has pulled out of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), dubbed the Iranian nuclear deal, other leading nations including the UK remain committed.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “While the UK remains fully committed to the deal, Iran must immediately stop and reverse all activities inconsistent with its obligations.
“We are coordinating with other JCPOA participants regarding the next steps under the terms of the deal, including a joint commission.”
The Islamic Republic said it will enrich uranium to the level needed to produce fuel for a nuclear power plant – which officials said was 5 per cent.
Previously Tehran said it would go over the deal’s nuclear restrictions one by one in retaliation against crippling economic sanctions imposed by the United States.
Enriched uranium is a key material needed to make nuclear weapons and the announcement comes just days after Donald Trump said he is ready to take military action against Iran.
Recent weeks have seen Iran shoot down a US military surveillance drone, mysterious attacks on oil tankers and Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen launching bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia.
A retaliatory strike by the US for the drone strike, that would have killed an estimated 150 people, was only called off at the last minute.
Relations between the US and Iran have deteriorated since the US withdrew from the international nuclear agreement with Iran.
The deal – officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA) – called for Iran to agree to the regulation of its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal last year, arguing it did not do enough to restrict Iran’s nuclear program and failed to address Iran’s missile program as well as its support for proxy forces in the Middle East.
The growing threat on Iranian ‘nukes’IRAN faces the return of economic sanctions after it emerged it had stockpiled too much of a substance used to make nuclear weapons.
The regime stepped up production of low-enriched uranium, which can also be used for reactor fuel, in May.
That was in response to Donald Trump claiming Iran was backing terrorism and the US quitting a 2015 pact allowing trade in exchange for a uranium cap of 300kg.
Theresa May called the breach “extremely concerning”.
And senior Whitehall sources said that if diplomatic channels failed to reduce its production then sanctions lifted in 2015 would be re-imposed.
The PM’s spokesman said: “We will continue working with our partners, in particularly Germany and France, to keep the nuclear deal in place.
“But we have been consistently clear our commitment to the deal depends on Iran complying in full.”
After withdrawing from the deal, the US reimposed sanctions on Iran as well as other countries who continue to trade with it.
The former head of the IAEA security team Olli Heinonen recently warned Iran could have nuclear weapons in six months’ time.
Iran long has, however, insisted its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, despite Western fears about it.
Under terms of the nuclear deal, Iran agreed to have less than 661 pounds of uranium enriched to a maximum of 3.67 per cent.
Previously, Iran enriched as high as 20 per cent which is a short technical step away from reaching weapons-grade levels. It also held up to 10 tonnes of the higher-enriched uranium.
Iran notified the signatories of the JCPOA in May it would no longer adhere to the commitments made in the agreement.
4 Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif admitted Iran as exceeded its enriched uranium limitCredit: Reuters
4 Donald Trump has made it clear he is ready to take military action against IranCredit: Splash News
President Donald Trump warns any war would with Iran be over very quickly as row over sanctions rumbles on
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