Iran breaches uranium enrichment limits set by landmark nuclear deal

CNN's Oren Liebermann, Michael Schwartz, Jennifer Hauser, Sarah El Sirgany, Sara Mazloumsaki and Jennifer Deaton contributed to this article. CNN's Oren Liebermann, Michael Schwartz, Jennifer Hauser, Sarah El Sirgany, Sara Mazloumsaki and Jennifer Deaton contributed to this article.

The announcement means the country is no longer complying with the agreement it signed with the United States and five other nations in 2015.

The move comes after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal and re-introduced economic sanctions in 2018.

Iran announced a partial withdrawal from the deal in May. Sunday marked the end of a 60-day ultimatum the country gave to the European signatories of the deal to ease sanctions on its banking and oil sectors.

Formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear accord was intended to limit Iran's civilian nuclear program and prevent it from developing nuclear weapons.

Iranian government spokesperson Ali Rabiei said Iran would cross the agreed 3.67% threshold on Sunday. He added that future concentration will be based on Iran's needs.

Keeping uranium enrichment to below 3.67% was one of the commitments Iran made in return for the lifting of economic sanctions in 2015. The level is enough for civil use to power parts of the country, but not enough to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran made two other major commitments as part of the deal. It agreed to reduce the number of its centrifuges, the tube-shaped machines that are used to enrich uranium, by two-thirds, and to slash its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98%.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif sent a letter to the European Union's foreign representative Federica Mogherini to inform her Iran would no longer adhere to the deal's commitments, according to the country's foreign ministry spokesman Seyed Abbas Araghchi.

"We will give an additional 60 days of time starting today before taking further steps," he wrote in Sunday's letter.

An EU spokesperson said the bloc was "extremely concerned at Iran's announcement."

"We strongly urge Iran to stop and reverse all activities inconsistent with its commitments under the JCPOA ... we are in contact with the other JCPOA participants regarding the next steps," the spokesperson said.

Israel has already called on European leaders to impose sanctions on Iran. "The enrichment of uranium is made for one reason and one reason only -- it's for the creation of atomic bombs," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a Cabinet meeting Sunday morning.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Sunday its inspectors would verify Iran's announcement.

"We are aware of Iran's announcement related to its uranium enrichment level. IAEA inspectors in Iran will report to our headquarters as soon as they verify the announced development," Fredrik Dahl, the agency's spokesperson, told CNN.

The 2015 deal was signed following two years of intense negotiations by the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom in 2015.

Read the full story at https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/07/middleeast/iran-nuclear-agreement-intl/index.html

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