Iran to Increase Uranium Enrichment in Violation of 2015 Nuclear Treaty

The Iranian flag flutters in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 4, 2019. (Leonhard Foeger/Reuters)

Iranian officials announced on Monday that they will begin to increase uranium enrichment in violation of the 2015 international nuclear treaty from which the U.S. already has withdrawn.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Agency, said the country’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium will surpass the limit established under the treaty within ten days, according to the Iranian news agency Tasnim.

The announcement by Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency comes weeks after Tehran threatened to violate the 2015 nuclear treaty if the pact’s remaining European signatories failed to shield the country from the effects of U.S. sanctions within 60 days.

Kamalvandi left open the possibility of returning to compliance with the treaty if the European parties help to relieve some of the burden of U.S. sanctions by establishing alternative trade arrangements.

“As long as they comply by their commitments, these will go back,” Kamalvandi said during a televised press conference at the country’s Arak nuclear plant.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran continued to escalate last week after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Iran was responsible for an attack on two oil tankers that occurred in the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday morning.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff (D., Calif.) endorsed the Trump administration’s finding of Iranian culpability during an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” but he criticized the maximum-pressure campaign that Pompeo has pursued as needlessly provocative.

“There’s no question that Iran is behind the attacks,” Schiff said. “I think the evidence is very strong and compelling.”

British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt also confirmed the administration’s findings, announcing on Twitter on Friday that the “U.K.’s assessment concludes that responsibility for the attacks almost certainly lies with Iran.”

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