The announcement is the clearest nuclear proliferation threat made by Iran since U.S. president unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018.
Iran said Sunday it is abandoning the limits contained in the 2015 nuclear deal amid escalating tensions in the region after the killing Friday in Baghdad, Iraq, of top Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani by a U.S. drone strike.
State television in Iran cited a statement by President Hassan Rouhani’s administration announcing that the country would not observe limits on fuel enrichment, on the size of its enriched uranium stockpile and on its research and development activities.
The statement means the Islamic Republic will no longer abide by the agreement’s key provisions but insisted that it remains open to negotiating with European partners over its nuclear program, and said it won’t retreat from earlier promises to not seek a nuclear weapon.
The announcement, however, is the clearest nuclear proliferation threat made by Iran since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in May 2018.
The nuclear accord, signed in 2015 by Iran, the U.S., the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia, bans nuclear activity at Fordow, a plant located near the city of Qom and capped the level of purity uranium can be enriched at 3.67 percent, which is suitable for civilian power generation and far below the 90 percent threshold of nuclear weapons-grade.
Before the deal, Iran used Fordow to enrich uranium to 20 percent fissile purity. Officials have said Tehran could again enrich uranium to 20 percent but there is no need for that right now.
After months of trading attacks and threats, the crisis between Iran and the U.S. has been dangerously exacerbated by Soleimani’s assassination, putting the whole region on the verge of a new conflict. Iran has promised “harsh revenge” for the U.S. attack, while Trump has likewise warned on Twitter that the U.S. will strike back at 52 targets “very fast and very hard.”
The killing of Soleimani, the second most important and respected figure in Iran has deeply shaken the country who considers the attack a declaration of war.
Iranian state TV estimated that a million mourners came out to the Imam Reza shrine in the city of Mashhad to pay their respects to Soleimani, whose casket moved slowly through streets choked with mourners.