Iran has announced on Monday that it had contracted more low enriched uranium than allowed during the 2015 nuclear power of world powers and warned American President Donald Trump that Tehran "play with fire".
Tehran's announcement was marked its first major step beyond the terms of the Charter, as the United States withdrew from it more than a year ago. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the move was not a violation of the agreement, arguing that Iran exercised its right to respond to the US's walkout.
However, the step could have far-reaching implications for diplomacy at a time when European countries are trying to withdraw the US and Iran from the confrontation. It comes less than two weeks after Trump said he ordered re-launching air strikes on Iran to just cancel them at the last minute.
Iran's semi-official Father's news agency reported that its enriched uranium stocks have now passed the 300kg limit allowed under the agreement.
The United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which monitors Iran's nuclear program under agreement, confirmed in Vienna that Tehran had exceeded the limit.
Trump asked if he had a message to Iran, said: "No message to Iran. They know what they are doing. They know what they are playing with, and I think they are playing with fire. So, no message to Iran at all. "
The White House said earlier that it would continue to apply" maximum pressure "to Iran" until its leaders change their action ". It also said that Iran should be kept to a standard that excludes all enrichment of uranium.
& # 39; We have not violated JCPOA & # 39;
However, there is no international standard that prohibits Iran from enriching uranium, says Daryl Kimball, Director of Arms Control. "That's not the case. It's an American attitude," he told the news agency for Reuters.
European powers party to the agreement and trying to keep it in place called on Iran not to take further steps that would violate it. However, they abstained from declaring the agreement void or announcing their own sanctions.
"We have NOT violated #JCPOA," wrote Zarif on Twitter, referring to the Acronym Agreement for his formal title, the Common Plan
. He referred to a paragraph in the Agreement containing the mechanism for countries to to resolve disputes over compliance.
"As soon as E3 complies with their commitments, we will return," he said, referring to European powers of Britain, Germany and France. Iran has demanded that they guarantee access to world trade envisaged under the agreement.
We have NOT violated #JCPOA .
Para 36 of the agreement illustrates why:
We triggered & exhausted para 36 after US withdrawal.
We gave E3 + 2 a few weeks while we booked our right.
Finally, we took action after 60 weeks.
As soon as E3 complies with their obligations, we will return. pic.twitter.com/bSxaMFaktH
̵1; Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 1, 2019
The movement is a test of European diplomacy after French, British and German officials had promised a strong diplomatic answer if Iran fundamentally violated the agreement.
Europeans, who opposed Trump's decision to abandon the deal last year, had called on Iran to stay within its parameters.
Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said that Britain will keep the pact "because we do not want Iran to have nuclear weapons. But if Iran breaks this agreement, we are also out of it."
Iran has said it aims to keep the agreement in place, but cannot keep its terms indefinitely as long as the sanctions imposed by Trump have deprived it of the benefits it was supposed to receive in contrast to accept restrictions on its nuclear program.
A spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that "such action by the Islamic Republic of Iran would not help outweigh the plan or secure the concrete economic benefits for the Iranian people." He added that it had to be resolved by deal mechanism.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said European countries should "back their commitments" and impose sanctions on Iran.
& # 39; Economic War & # 39;
Iran said in May that it would accelerate its production of enriched uranium in response to the Trump administration sharply tightening sanctions that month. Washington has now effectively ordered all countries to stop buying Iranian oil or facial sanctions, which Tehran calls "economic war" intended to starve its people.
In the two months since the sanctions were tightened, the confrontation has taken on a military dimension, with Washington accusing Tehran of attacks on oil tankers and Iran, shooting down an American drone, causing the interrupted US air strikes. Iran denies any involvement in the suspected oil tanker attacks.
The core contract limits both how much enriched uranium Iran can hold and how pure its stocks can be, thresholds designed to prolong the breakout period – the time Tehran would need to build a nuclear bomb, if it was looking for one.
Zarif said that Iran's next step would be to enrich uranium beyond the maximum 3.67 percent fissile purity allowed under the agreement, a threshold which Teheran had previously said it would cross on July 7.
Iranian movements so far seem to be a calculated test of trade enforcement mechanisms and diplomatic response.
"This is not an irreversible step taken by the Iranians. Iran, with the remaining partners, can decide how they will continue. There is a process in JCPOA to try to cure breaches," Wendy Sherman said. , former president Barack Obama's leading US dealer on the deal and now director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard Kennedy School.
"This does not in itself reduce the breakout period, which is crucial here," she said.
Enrichment of uranium to a low level of 3.6 percent fissile material is the first step in a process ultimately used to produce the more highly enriched uranium that can be used to build a nuclear weapon. Iran has repeatedly denied that it has any plans to build such a weapon.
Al Jazeera's Zein Basravi, reporting from Tehran, said it was a "very fragile time" for the nuclear power in 2015, whereby the breach of the enriched uranium boundary was signaled an "important moment".
"This is the first time we see something that we can point out and say it is a clear reduction in cooperation with the nuclear power in 2015," Basravi said.
Europeans have said they want to help Iran increase the economy. But so far, European efforts to do so have failed, with Iran being abolished in the oil markets and large foreign companies who were planning to invest for fear of breaking US rules.
"Much noise but not much David Albright, a former UN nuclear inspector consulting European officials on Iraq's nuclear agreement, told the Reuters news agency that while the EU3 is angry that Iran has broken the 300 kg ceiling, The offense is not serious enough for them to seek an immediate snap-back of international sanctions
. They see that he says more serious offenses may indicate that Iran is returning to nuclear weapons development weapons, which the CIA and IAEA stated in Tehran. left in 2003. Iran refuses It had such a program.
"There will be a lot of noise but not much on snapback," said Albright, chairman of the Department of Science and International Security, a think tank.
The confrontation has set United States able to demand that Europeans ensure Iranian compliance with an agreement that Washington itself has declined, Trump has argued that the agreement is too weak because some of its terms are not perma and because it does not cover non-nuclear issues such as Iran's ballistic missile program and regional behavior.
Washington has said sanctions are aimed at pushing Tehran back to the negotiating table. Iran said it cannot speak as long as Washington ignores the agreement it signed.
Israel, which considers the Iranian nuclear program an existential threat, has supported Trump's tough line, as well as having US allies, including several golf states, which consider Iran an enemy and an advantage of having its oil held by markets.