Iran has breached the 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium allowed under the 2015 international nuclear accord, both Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed on Monday.
An IAEA spokesperson later told reporters that: “We can confirm that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has informed the Board of Governors that the agency verified on 1 July that Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile exceeded 300kg of UF6 [uranium hexafluoride] enriched up to 3.67% U-235 (or the equivalent in different chemical forms).”
“Based on what I have been told, Iran has exceeded the 300kg limit in accordance with its plan,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted by Isna news agency as telling reporters in Tehran on Monday afternoon.
“We already announced that measures taken by Europeans have not been sufficient, and as the Islamic Republic had announced, we will implement the second stage of reducing our commitments. The first stage is going on both with regard to [the enriched] uranium stocks and heavy water stocks, and the next stage has been announced and will be implemented,” was quoted Zarif as saying.
“We have clearly said what we will do and we will act accordingly. We deem it as part of our rights under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” he added, referring to the official name of the nuclear deal.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said its inspectors had verified the 300kg (660lb) cap had been exceeded.
Iran has further threatened to increase its level of uranium enrichment up to 20% from Sunday. This would enable it to get some 90% of the way towards having material suitable for a bomb.
Trade between Europe and Iran has fallen since the US imposed a raft of sanctions that have battered Iran’s currency and sent its economy into recession.
Enriched uranium is produced by feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges to separate out the most suitable isotope for nuclear fission, called U-235.
Under the nuclear deal, Iran is only permitted to produce low-enriched uranium, which has a 3-4% concentration of U-235, and can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants. Weapons-grade uranium is 90% enriched or more. The deal also restricted Iran to stockpile no more than 300kg (660lbs) of the low-enriched uranium.