Iran says it plans to go beyond limits placed on its uranium enrichment in the next 10 days. The limit was set in the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.
A spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, made the statement while speaking to reporters on state-operated television. He said, “Today the countdown to pass the 300 kilograms reserve of enriched uranium has started and in 10 days’ time…” the limit will be passed.
Kamalvandi said that Iran had already increased its uranium production to four times of what it had been before. He said this increase was “based on the country’s needs.”
What’s next for the 2015 nuclear deal?
Under the 2015 deal, Iran agreed to keep no more than 300 kilograms of “low-enrichment uranium.” When it is highly enriched, uranium can be used as a fuel for nuclear weapons. The country is believed to have had 10,000 kilograms of uranium with a higher enrichment level before the agreement.
U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement last year saying it did not do enough to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. The Trump administration also has noted Iran’s support of conflicts in Syria and Yemen and of extremist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas.
Since withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. has again placed strong international economic restrictions on Iran. The other parties to the agreement, Britain, China, France, Russia and Germany are still trying to save the deal with Iran.
On Monday, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani met with France’s new ambassador to Tehran. He warned that time was running out for the deal.
“The current situation is very critical and France and the other parties to the (deal) still have a very limited opportunity to play their historic role for saving the deal,” Rouhani said in a statement on his website.
Iran also set a July 7 date for European powers to come up with an agreement to save the deal, or it would move away from the agreement, likely meaning it would increase enrichment further.
Tensions in the Gulf area heightened
Iran’s plan to increase uranium production comes as debate continues over the attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. The United States says Iranian forces carried out the attack, but details of the attack are being disputed.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on television that he blamed Iran for the attacks saying, “These were attacks by the Islamic Republic of Iran on commercial shipping…”
Pompeo went on to “guarantee freedom of navigation” through the Straits of Hormuz. He said the U.S. does not want war with Iran, but will ensure that world oil supplies can pass through the important waterway.
Iran’s Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, denied on Monday that Iran was behind the attacks on the tankers. He said if Iran decided to block shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, it would do so publicly.
I’m Mario Ritter, Jr.
Mario Ritter Jr. adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on VOA and Associated Press news reports. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
tanker – n. a huge ship, truck or airplane specially made to carry materials such as oil or fuel
enrichment –n. to increase the quality of something or increase its usefulness
countdown –n. a period of time before an important event takes place: such as a launch or reaching a goal
reserve –n. a supply of something to be used at a later time
commercial –adj. related to buying or selling goods
navigation –n. the act of moving a boat or ship over an area of water
role –n. the part someone or some group plays in an event or situation
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