Iran has signalled that it will breach an international agreement that restricts its nuclear capabilities, potentially clearing the path for the Islamic nation to build atomic weapons, defence analysts say.
A spokesman for Iran’s atomic agency says the country will break the uranium stockpile limit set by Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in the next 10 days.
Behrouz Kamalvandi made the comment in a live news conference on Iranian state television on Monday.
The current deal restricts the amount of enriched uranium Iran is allowed to stockpile in return for favourable economic treatment from major European economies. The US, under Donald Trump, recently pulled out of the agreement.
Iran is allowed to have up to 300kg of 3.67 per cent enriched uranium under the deal but says it will exceed that later this month. Iran is also reportedly threatening to resume high-grade 20 per cent uranium enrichment that could eventually be used in a nuclear bomb.
“This is really a major inflection point because it means that Iran can build up a significant stockpile of low enriched uranium,” Defence analyst Dubai Shahbandar told TRT World.
“And the spent plutonium fuel rods ... could also potentially be used for a nuclear weapon program in the future,” he said.
Kamalvandi acknowledged that Iran has already quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran's atomic agency, acknowledges country already quadrupled production of low-enriched uranium pic.twitter.com/5Cu7VD1u5X— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) June 17, 2019
The announcement comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the US and has caused concern among international observers.
“If Iran crashes out of the deal, it will be a scary and uncertain moment for the world,” tweeted Raf Sanchez, The Telegraph’s Middle East correspondent.
“If Iran openly beaches the deal, the Europeans will have to decide whether to reimpose sanctions straightaway or try to coax Iran back into compliance,” he said.
“It's not clear Europe has any carrots. If they did, they probably would have deployed them by now.”
If Iran crashes out of the deal, it will be a scary and uncertain moment for the world.— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) June 17, 2019
But remember in 2011/2012 we were literally days, maybe hours, away from Israel striking Iran's nuclear facilities and potentially triggering war. We're not (yet) back at that stage.
The US and Israel have previously been accused of covert cyber attacks on nuclear facilities in Iran before the recent deal was reached in 2015.
Iran’s announcement comes in the wake of suspected attacks on oil tankers last week that Washington blamed on Iran.
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