Iran will resume high-level enrichment of uranium if world powers do not keep their promises under the 2015 nuclear agreement, President Hassan Rouhani has said.
In a televised speech on Wednesday, President Rouhani said that Iran would hold on to stockpiles of excess uranium and heavy water used in its nuclear reactors.
The move comes exactly one year after the US unilaterally withdrew from the deal. Rouhani said the remaining signatories – France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – had been informed in advance of Tehran’s move.
Under the agreement, Iran was permitted to stockpile limited amounts enriched uranium and heavy water produced in that process, exporting any excess. Doing so has become extremely difficult after the US revoked waivers that allowed Iran to export those excess stockpiles, effectively forcing Iran to halt enrichment or ignore the limits, which it is now doing.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran declares that at the current stage, it does not any more see itself committed to respecting the limitations on keeping enriched uranium and heavy water reserves,” Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) said in a statement carried by the semi-official Fars news agency.
The SNSC said other partners would have 60 days to alleviate pressure on Iran caused by subsequent US sanctions, otherwise the country “will cease implementation of restrictions on uranium enrichment levels and measures related to the modernization of Arak Heavy Water Reactor as well.”
“Once our demands are met, we will resume implementation of the ceased undertakings. Otherwise, the Islamic Republic of Iran will stop compliance with its other undertakings in consequent phases,” the SNSC said.
Rouhani’s speech came amid heightened American economic and military pressure on Iran, including the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Middle East that US officials say was in response to credible indications Tehran planned to attack US interests in the region.
The Trump administration has also imposed sanctions on purchasers of Iranian oil and designated the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian military, as a terrorist group. On Friday, the State Department announced new restrictions on Iran’s civil nuclear program.