Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday said that Tehran is now enriching more uranium than before it agreed to the 2015 nuclear accord with world powers.
Declaring that there is “no limit” to the Islamic republic’s enrichment of the fissile material, Rouhani said ina televised speech before the heads of banks that “pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress.”
Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments under the nuclear deal in retaliation to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the pact in 2018 and to reimpose crippling sanctions on the country’s economy.
Tehran continued to abide by the agreement until last summer, when it began violating some of its limits, saying it would not be bound by the pact if it saw none of its promised economic benefits.
Under the deal, Tehran was promised relief from sanctions and a re-integration with the global economy in exchange for curbing its nuclear activities.
So far, however, it has only modestly increased its nuclear activity. In recent months it has raised its enrichment of uranium to 4.5 percent — higher than the 3.67 percent limit set by the deal but far from the 20 percent enrichment it was engaged in before the agreement.
To be used in a nuclear weapon, uranium must be enriched to 90 percent.
Britain, France and Germany have spent the past few months trying to salvage the nuclear deal, but have not found a way to continue trading with Iran amid the tightened US sanctions.
Earlier this week, they triggered a dispute mechanism in the deal to try to nudge Iran back into compliance, but that process could lead to the snapback of international sanctions.
In his address to the bankers, Rouhani acknowledged that the sanctions had caused economic pain. But he added that economic considerations could not be separate from foreign policy and national security, suggesting that Iran will not give in to US demands.
He also acknowledged the rising tensions with Washington.
“A single bullet can cause a war, and not shooting a single bullet can lead to peace,” he said, adding that his administration is seeking greater security.
With Post wires