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July 9, 2019

Iran breaches uranium enrichment cap


July 9, 2019

IAEA verifies Iran is enriching uranium above 3.67 percent; Iran warns against any escalatory response; EU says it is extremely concerned; Pompeo tweets Iran to face further isolation and sanctions; China and Russia blame United States; France rushes envoy for de-escalation

TEHRAN: Iran on Monday breached a uranium enrichment cap set by a troubled 2015 nuclear deal and warned Europe against taking retaliatory measures, as France decided to send an envoy to Tehran to calm tensions. The move came more

than a year after Washington pulled out of the landmark accord between world powers and Tehran, which says it has

lost patience with perceived inaction by the remaining European partners. Iran surpassing the cap and

reaching 4.5 percent enrichment was announced Monday by the country´s atomic energy organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi. “This level of purity completely satisfies the power plant fuel requirements of the country,” he said, quoted by the semiofficial ISNA news agency. Kamalvandi hinted that the Islamic republic might stick to this level of enrichment for the

time being, which is well below the more than 90-percent level required for a nuclear warhead. The UN nuclear watchdog,

the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), confirmed that Iran had enriched uranium to a level above the deal´s cap. The

IAEA said its inspectors “on 8 July verified that Iran is enriching uranium above 3.67 percent U-235”. The European Union said it was “extremely concerned” by the development and called on Iran to “reverse all activities” inconsistent with its deal commitments. France, Germany and Britain — the European partners of the international deal — also urged Tehran to halt its advance towards breaching the cap, as Paris said it was sending a special envoy to Tehran on Tuesday and Wednesday to try

and “de-escalate” tensions. Iran´s foreign ministry warned against any escalatory response. If the Europeans “do certain strange acts, then we would skip all the next steps (in the plan to scale back commitments) and implement the last one”, ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said. He did not specify what the final step would be but President Hassan Rouhani had warned previously that Iran could leave the nuclear accord. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reiterated that Iran´s actions could be reversed if European partners deliver on their part, insisting there was no better pact than the 2015 deal, of which he was

a key architect. “As it becomes increasingly clear that there won´t be a better deal, they´re bizarrely urging Iran´s full

compliance. There´s a way out,” he tweeted. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Sunday that Iran would face “further isolation and sanctions”. China and Russia, the other deal partners, both blamed the United States for the latest step by Iran.

Beijing accused Washington of “unilateral bullying”, while Moscow said passing the enrichment cap was one of the

“consequences” of the White House abandoning the deal. French President Emmanuel Macron was rushing his envoy

Emmanuel Bonne will visit Iran “to piece together a de-escalation (strategy), with the actions which need to be taken immediately before July 15”, the French presidency said in statement Monday.-AFP

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