Iran exceeds deal’s uranium enrichment limit in latest breach

The Iranian nuclear deal took another hit Monday as Iran blew past the limit on uranium enrichment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed Monday that Iran has exceeded the uranium enrichment level, a day after Tehran announced it was moving forward with doing so.

“Director General Yukiya Amano has informed the IAEA Board of Governors that Agency inspectors on 8 July verified that Iran is enriching uranium above 3.67% U-235,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement.

The statement did not say to what purity level Iran is now enriching uranium. But earlier Monday, the spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency told the semi-official ISNA news agency his country has “surpassed the 4.5 percent” enrichment level.

Not close to a weapon:

The Iran nuclear deal sets a 3.67 percent enrichment level, enough to fuel a power plant but far from weapons-grade.

The 4.5 percent referenced by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization is also still well below the 90 percent enrichment level that is considered weapons-grade. But increasing uranium enrichment levels is still seen as a more serious breach than Iran’s earlier breach on stockpiling low-enriched uranium, as it inches the country closer to a nuclear weapon.

Iran on Monday also threatened to take further steps in 60 days, including possibly restarting centrifuges that were dismantled under the nuclear deal or enriching uranium to 20 percent.

Once Iran reaches 20 percent, it would take much less time to reach 90 percent enrichment.

Trump’s response:

The Trump administration is standing firm on its so-called maximum pressure campaign.

On Sunday after Iran’s announcement, President Trump warned Iran to “be careful.”

“Iran better be careful because you enrich for one reason, and I won’t tell you what that reason is, but it’s no good,” Trump said. “They better be careful.”

Trump administration officials speaking Monday to the Christians United for Israel conference also vowed not to waver from the maximum pressure policy.

“We will continue to bring pressure on their economy, and under President Donald Trump, America will never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon,” Vice President Pence said at the conference.

“We’ve implemented the strongest pressure campaign in history against the Iranian regime, and we are not done,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added during his speech.

Read more:

In anticipation of Iran’s latest move, we took a look this weekend at what you need to know about its breaches of the nuclear deal. Catch up on that here.

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