July 8 (UPI) — Iran’s top nuclear official said Monday Tehran has far surpassed the stockpile limit for uranium set by the 2015 agreement that sought to keep the nation from producing atomic weapons.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said Iran has reached 4.5 percent enriched uranium. The limit set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is 3.7 percent.
Iran has moved forward with breaching parts of the pact since the United States announced its withdrawal last year and European parties to the deal haven’t aided Tehran in skirting U.S. sanctions, government officials said.
“They made no proper moves, so according to the order of the president and the Supreme National Security Council, we surpassed the 3.67 percent limit,” Kamalvandi said.
“We have no obstacle or problem with this action.”
Increasing uranium levels up to 20 percent have been discussed by Iranian leadership as a possible third phase, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. That would also involve increasing the number of centrifuges.
“Twenty percent is not needed now, but if we want we will produce it,” Kamalvandi added. “If our country’s needs are one thing, we won’t pursue something else just to scare the other side a little more. But they know it’s an upward trend.”
The Obama-era accord promised to lift sanctions against Iran in exchange for restricting Tehran’s nuclear activities to the laboratory.
China, a party to the JCPOA, blamed the United States for Iran’s recent moves.
“The facts show that unilateral bullying has already become a worsening tumor,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday. “The maximum pressure exerted by the U.S. on Iran is the root cause of the Iranian nuclear crisis.”
Tensions have increased between Washington and Tehran in recent weeks, aggravated by the shootdown of a U.S. drone and suspected Iranian attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.