Israel urges world to up sanctions if Iran breaches uranium enrichment limit 

Source: Israel urges world to up sanctions if Iran breach uranium enrichment limit –

Spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization says Iran has quadrupled its rate of enrichment, will surpass allowed stockpile level in 10 days.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged world powers on Monday to step up sanctions against Iran swiftly should it go through with a plan to exceed an enriched uranium limit set by a 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran will break the uranium stockpile limit set by Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in the next 10 days, the spokesman for the country’s atomic agency said Monday, while also warning that Iran requires uranium enriched up to 20%, just a step away from weapons-grade levels.

The announcement indicated Iran’s determination to break from the landmark 2015 accord, which has steadily unraveled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the deal last year and re-imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into freefall.

“Should Iran deliver on its current threats, and violate the nuclear deal, the international community will have to implement, immediately, the pre-set sanctions mechanism, what is called ‘snapback sanctions,’” Netanyahu said in a speech.

“In any event, Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weaponry,” Netanyahu added, reiterating a long-standing, if veiled, threat to take pre-emptive military action.

The spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, made the announcement during a press conference with local journalists at Iran’s Arak heavy water facility. It was carried live on Iranian state television.

“We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will bypass the 300 kg [660 lb] limit,” Kamalvandi said on state TV. “There is still time … if European countries act.”

Kamalvandi acknowledged that the country had already quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium and said Tehran would increase uranium enrichment levels “based on the country’s needs.”

That increase could be to any level, starting from 3.67%, which is the current limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s needs 5% enrichment for its nuclear power plant in the southern Iranian port of Bushehr as well as 20% enrichment for a research reactor in Tehran, Kamalvandi said.

In May, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned the country would enrich its uranium stockpile closer to weapons-grade levels within 60 days if world powers failed to negotiate new terms for the nuclear deal.

When uranium is mined, it typically has about 140 atoms of an unwanted isotope for every atom of U-235. Refining it to a purity of 3.67%, the level the terms of the current nuclear deal allow, means removing 114 unwanted atoms of U-238 for every atom of U-235.

Boosting its purity to 20% means removing 22 more unwanted isotopes per atom of U-235, while progressing to 90% purity means removing just four more extra isotopes per atom of U-235. Ninety percent is considered weapons-grade material.

That means going from 20% to 90% is a quicker process than going from 3.67% to 20%, something that worries nuclear nonproliferation experts.

The development comes in the wake of suspected attacks on oil tankers last week in the region, attacks that Washington has blamed on Iran, and also as tensions have spiked between Iran and the United States, a year after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America for the nuclear deal.

The deal was meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons in exchange for economic incentives.

But Trump’s pullout and the US campaign of sanctions hammering Iran’s anemic economy and blocking its sale of oil on the global market only made life worse, putting further pressure on Iran’s Shiite theocracy and its 80 million people.


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