Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium has breached the limit set under an agreement reached between world powers and Tehran in 2015.
On July 1, Iranian media began reporting that the Iranian government has exceeded the maximum upper limit for low-enriched uranium (LEU), with a stockpile over the 300-kilogram cap. The Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was quoted as saying, “Based on what I have been told, Iran has exceeded the 300-kilogram limit in accordance with its plan. We had announced it previously.”
He noted, “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.”
Iran did not indicate how much LEU it currently has in its stockpile, other than to say that it surpassed the limit. The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Behrouz Kamalvandi, stated that Iran will begin enriching to a purity above 3.7 percent, up to 20 percent, putting Iran close to possessing high-enriched uranium. A sufficient quantity of uranium enriched to a purity of over 90 percent is considered necessary to produce a uranium-based nuclear weapon.
The U.S. suspects Iran of seeking to eventually produce a nuclear weapon, which Iran denies.
In a statement to BBC News, a spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Organization, which monitors states’ nuclear activities, said, “Our inspectors are on the ground and they will report to headquarters as soon as the LEU stockpile has been verified.”
Iran’s decision to breach the limit set by the 2015 nuclear accord comes over a year after the U.S. withdrew from the same deal. In recent months, tension between the two countries has risen dramatically, amid a series of mysterious sabotage incidents near the Strait of Hormuz as well as attacks by Iranian proxies on U.S. allies in the region.
Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump ordered but then called off a military strike in response to Iran downing an American RQ-4 unmanned aerial vehicle, which Iran claims strayed into its airspace. The U.S. said the drone was shot down in international airspace.