Iran said Wednesday it will stop complying with parts of the 2015 nuclear deal by surpassing the cap on enriched uranium and heavy water production.
Tehran has been considering withdrawal in the face of old and new U.S. sanctions tied to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Threats against U.S. military forces prompted the Pentagon to send an aircraft carrier strike force, B-52 bombers and a Marine expeditionary force to the Middle East.
The decision to stop compliance was made by Iran’s Supreme National Security Council.
“The country has begun to stop implementing some of its obligations under the JCPOA,” an Atomic Energy Organization of Iran official told Iranian Students’ News Agency. “Stopping programs related to compliance with the ceiling for production of enriched uranium as well as the unlimited production of heavy water at the Arak facility are pursued as stressed during the first 60-day period related to Iran’s first step in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal.”
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last week Tehran would abandon some of its commitments under the pact, which was brokered in 2015 with several Western nations, including the United States. The agreement lifted Iranian sanctions in exchange for Tehran suspending all work related to nuclear weapons. U.S. President Donald Trump said last year the United States would withdraw from the accord.
Though the United States is no longer party to the agreement, several European countries are. Last week, Iran unsuccessfully tried to strike a deal with the European Union to continue compliance in exchange for the ability to export crude oil, which has been banned by U.S. sanctions. Iran had given the other parties 60 days to help guard Tehran from the U.S. sanctions.
Experts have said Iran could have weapons-grade plutonium within a year.
This week, Iran’s ambassador to Britain accused the Trump administration of trying to start “an unnecessary war.”
“While we have renounced any escalation in the region, I would assure you that Iranian armed forces are fully ready for any eventuality in the region, so they should not try to test the determination of Iran to confront any escalation in the region,” ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad said.
Tensions related to Iran are also impacting other neighboring countries. This week, Iran-backed Houthi rebels attacked two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia, prompting Riyadh to strike back with more than a dozen airstrikes against rebels in Yemen. The pipeline attacks occurred a day after two Saudi oil tankers were targeted off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.