Iran on Monday warned that its next step in reducing commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal will be stronger, with a senior official saying that 20 per cent uranium enrichment was an option.
Spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said on Monday, Tehran has passed the 3.67 per cent uranium enrichment cap set by a 2015 nuclear deal and might enrich at even higher levels, the state-run Press TV reported.
“Twenty per cent is not needed now, but if we want we will produce it. When we’ve put aside 3.67 per cent enrichment we have no obstacle or problem with this action,” Kamalvandi said.
Options for enriching at higher levels have been discussed with the Supreme National Security Council, the spokesman said.
“There is the 20 per cent option and there are options even higher than that but each in its own place. Today if our country’s needs are one thing, we won’t pursue something else just to scare the other side a little more. But they know it’s an upward trend,” he said.
Kamalvandi’s announcement on Monday comes a day after he said that the country would raise its uranium enrichment level beyond the 3.67 per cent level. He said the enrichment levels would stand at 5 per cent.
The remaining European signatories to the nuclear deal, he said, should act quickly to fulfil their promises because Iran will continue reducing its commitments to the agreement until it achieves a result.
In response to Iran’s measures, China said it was due to “unilateral bullying” by the US, Press TV reported.
“The facts show that unilateral bullying has already become a worsening tumour,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing in Beijing on Monday.
The US withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and began reimposing sanctions on Iran in August 2018, targeting crucial sectors including oil exports and the banking system.
The 2015 deal was reached between Iran and six world powers — Britain, China, France, Germany, the US and Russia — and saw Tehran agree to drastically scale down its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
France, Germany and Britain — the remaining Europeans partners of the international deal — have urged Tehran to halt its advance towards higher enrichment and warned the country of unspecified consequences.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi warned European countries on Monday against any “strange” response to its move.
Asked if Tehran could withdraw entirely from the JCPOA, Mousavi said “all the options” were possible but “no decision has been taken”.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on May 8 warned his country would begin to withdraw from key aspects of the agreement if global powers failed to keep their commitments within the next 60 days.