Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that the country will begin enriching uranium at a higher level than what is allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal within days.
The announcement comes two days after Iran announced it had exceeded limits on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles. Iran further continues to press Europe for relief from crippling U.S. sanctions.
“We will raise the level of enrichment to the amount we want and need,” Rouhani said at a government meeting according to semi-official Tasnim News Agency.
“On July 7, our enrichment level will no longer be 3.67%. We will put aside this commitment. We will increase (the enrichment level) beyond 3.67% to as much as we want, as much as is necessary, as much as we need,” Rouhani told a cabinet meeting.
Iran’s partial withdrawal from the nuclear deal — known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — follows Trump’s pull-out from the agreement in May 2018.
Iranian crude exports were around 300,000 barrels per day or less in late June, industry sources said, a small fraction of the more than 2.5 million bpd Iran shipped in April 2018, the month before Trump abandoned the nuclear deal.
“Our advice to Europe and the United States is to go back to logic and to the negotiating table,” Rouhani said in a televised address to his Cabinet. “Go back to understanding, to respecting the law and resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. Under those conditions, all of us can abide by the nuclear deal.”
As required by the accord, Iran said in January 2016 that it had removed the core of the reactor and filled it with cement.
“From (July 7) onward with the Arak reactor, if you don’t operate (according to) the programme and time frame of all the commitments you’ve given us, we will return the Arak reactor to its previous condition,” said Rouhani.
Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy aims to push Iran into negotiate a wider-ranging deal also reining in its ballistic missile programme and its backing of proxies around the Middle East in a struggle with Saudi Arabia for regional dominance.
Tensions escalated last month leading to possible military action between the two countries when Tehran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone and the American President responded with a decision to launch air strikes only to call them off at the last minute.
Washington has also accused Iran of being behind attacks on several oil tankers in the Gulf, which Tehran continues to deny.