World: Iran is breaching its uranium stockpile limit under the nuclear deal. Here's what that actually means - PressFrom - US
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WorldIran is breaching its uranium stockpile limit under the nuclear deal. Here's what that actually means

14:00  02 july  2019
14:00  02 july  2019 Source:   cnbc.com

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran acknowledged Monday it had broken the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by the 2015 nuclear deal , marking its first major departure from the unraveling Iran had been expected for days to acknowledge it broke the limit after earlier warning it would do so.

Under terms of the nuclear deal , Iran agreed to have less than 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of uranium enriched to a maximum of 3.67%. Previously, Iran enriched as high as 20%, which is a short technical step away from reaching weapons-grade levels.

  • Iran has now exceeded its internationally-agreed stockpile limit of low-enriched uranium, breaching a key tenet of the 2015 nuclear deal that the President Donald Trump administration abandoned last year.
  • The move comes amid rapidly escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran and against the backdrop of an Iranian economy buckling under the weight of U.S. sanctions.
  • Nuclear experts told CNBC this still leaves Iran a long way from having the capability to build a bomb.
Iran is breaching its uranium stockpile limit under the nuclear deal. Here's what that actually means© Provided by CNBC LLC This handout image supplied by the IIPA (Iran International Photo Agency) shows a view of the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant as the first fuel is loaded, on August 21, 2010 in Bushehr, southern Iran.

Iran has now exceeded its internationally-agreed stockpile limit of low-enriched uranium, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Monday, violating a key tenet of the 2015 nuclear deal that the President Donald Trump administration abandoned last year.

Iran breaches nuclear fuel stockpile allowed under accord: report

Iran breaches nuclear fuel stockpile allowed under accord: report Iran exceeded a key limitation on how much nuclear fuel it can possess under the terms of the 2015 international nuclear accord, its state media said.

Under the nuclear deal , Iran is only permitted (until 2031) to produce low-enriched uranium , which has a 3-4% concentration of the most fissile isotope Iran has also said it will speed up production of low-enriched uranium once it has breached the stockpile limit , but its concentration would still be

Iran long has insisted its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, despite Western fears about it. But by coupling an increasing stockpile with higher enrichment, it begins to close that one-year window and hamper any diplomatic efforts at saving the accord. Under terms of the nuclear deal , Iran agreed to

The move comes amid rapidly escalating tensions between Washington and Tehran and against the backdrop of an Iranian economy buckling under the weight of U.S. sanctions, which had previously been lifted under the Obama-era deal in exchange for limits on the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

Zarif said Iran has surpassed 300kg (661 pounds) of uranium hexafluoride (UF6), the equivalent of 202.8kg of low-enriched uranium (LEU), Iran's limit under the nuclear deal. Uranium enriched to the low level of 3.67% fissile material, allowed under the deal, is step one in the process that could, over time, enable Iran to accumulate enough highly-enriched uranium to build a nuclear warhead, according to experts.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi, however, said that Iran's breaches of the deal were "reversible".

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Iran fires back at White House over claims it has been violating nuclear deal for years: 'Seriously?' Iran fired back at the White House’s claims that the regime has been violating the 2015 nuclear accord for years, tweeting “seriously?”

Iran insists its nuclear work remains peaceful, as guaranteed under the accord. But it also insists that the country has the Breaching the 300-kilogram limit of low-enriched uranium is not in itself a signal that Iran intends to abandon its pledge of Does this mean Iran is violating the nuclear agreement?

Iran long has insisted its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, despite Western fears about it. But by coupling an increasing stockpile with higher enrichment, it begins to close that one-year window and hamper any diplomatic efforts at saving the accord. Under terms of the nuclear deal , Iran agreed to

But what does exceeding a certain amount of low-enriched uranium actually mean? How much closer does this bring Iran to nuclear bomb-making capability?

A bomb is still 'a long way off'

Nuclear experts interviewed by CNBC say this is far less threatening than it sounds.

"Even once Iran crosses the 300kg threshold, they are still a long way off from having a stockpile sufficient to produce a bomb," Anne Harrington, professor of international relations and a specialist in nuclear nonproliferation at Cardiff University in Wales, told CNBC in an email.

That's because low-enriched uranium is only 3.67% U-235 ⁠— the uranium isotope needed to create a nuclear weapon ⁠— and is impractical for use in a weapon, Harrington explained. "At 3.67% they would need to stockpile approximately three times the current limit to have enough material for one bomb, and that material would need to be further enriched."

Iran warns Europe it 'will take next step' to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level if new deal isn't reached

Iran warns Europe it 'will take next step' to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level if new deal isn't reached Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani warned Europeans nations Wednesday that Tehran will "take the next step" in increasing its uranium enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels this coming Sunday if they do not offer a new deal by then. This week, Iran reportedly breached that low-enriched uranium stockpile limitation. Under terms of the multinational 2015 nuke deal, Iran can keep a stockpile of no more than 660 pounds of low-enriched uranium.

Iran long has insisted its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, despite Western fears about it. But by coupling an increasing stockpile with higher enrichment, it begins to close that one-year window and hamper any diplomatic efforts at saving the accord. Under terms of the nuclear deal , Iran agreed to

Iran has surpassed the uranium stockpile limits established by a 2015 multinational nuclear deal , according to the Islamic Republic' s semi-official Fars news agency, making good on a threat by Tehran two weeks ago that it would soon breach the restrictions.

The minimum threshold for a crude nuclear weapon is 400kg of uranium enriched to 20% U-235, but weapons grade uranium is 90% U-235, the professor elaborated. "So while increasing their stockpile of low-enriched uranium puts Iran closer to producing weapons grade material, there is still a lot of work to do to get there," she told CNBC.

Rather than indicating an intent to weaponize their program, Harrington said, "what the Iranian leadership appears to be doing is signaling to the Trump administration and its domestic constituencies that it remains committed to its right to enrich."

A significant move ⁠— but how dangerous is it?

Jan Ruzicka, a lecturer in security studies at Aberystwyth University in Wales, says he "could clearly see this escalating further into something nasty and dangerous."

"But does this get Iran closer to the bomb?" he asked. "Technically speaking, yes in some ways, but it's still a ways to go from where they are ⁠— even if they overstep this threshold."

"It's significant, yes, but dangerous I'd say potentially not immediately with a view to the nuclear bomb."

Trump warns Iran about 'threats' after its uranium enrichment announcement

Trump warns Iran about 'threats' after its uranium enrichment announcement President Donald Trump warned Iran on Wednesday to "be careful with threats" after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country would boost its uranium enrichment beyond the cap set in a 2015 nuclear deal. "Iran has just issued a New Warning. Rouhani says that they will Enrich Uranium to 'any amount we want' if there is no new Nuclear Deal," Trump said on Twitter. "Be careful with the threats, Iran. They can come back to bite you like nobody has been bitten before!" he said.

Iranian officials probably think that it ' s too late for Trump to start a war in his first term. If Trump wins the second term, war is inevitable as The headline " Iran has exceeded enriched uranium stockpile limit " feels like a fucking dereliction of duty here . There is no limit without a fucking deal in place, and

Iran acknowledged on Monday that it had broken the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by the 2015 nuclear deal , marking its first major departure Under terms of the nuclear deal , Iran agreed to have less than 300 kilograms of uranium enriched to a maximum of 3.67%.

Ruzicka and Harrington see Iran roughly a year out from having enough material for an atomic weapon, but they say any timeline is dependent on many complicated factors. Still, significant engineering expertise and additional time is required to make an actually deliverable bomb.

"You still need to fit (the highly-enriched uranium) into a device, you need precision engineering to design the core so you can actually control and spark the reaction, you also need something to deliver it with," Ruzicka explained.

"So they are not a nuclear armed country, even if they enrich further."

Aniseh Tabrizi, an Iran expert and research fellow at London's Royal United Services Institute, agrees.

"All these measures are pretty reversible, and the increase of the stockpiles in itself is not a matter of concern, even if it is of course a violation of the JCPOA (the Iran deal's formal acronym) and entails some sort of response," Tabrizi said.

"The Iranians are trying to gain some sort of leverage on the nuclear front," she added, "showing that they're not going to sit and wait for pressure to increase without doing anything ⁠— they're actually responding and therefore increasing the cost of the decision that the U.S. has made."

How did we get here?

Trump reimposed heavy economic penalties, most significantly on Iran's massive oil sector, last year in response to what his administration calls "malign activity" in the Middle East including support for terrorist proxies like Hezbollah and ballistic missile testing. In May, his administration ended the granting of waivers to the remaining importers of Iranian oil with the aim of slashing the country's crude exports to zero. Iran's economy is in severe recession and its inflation is expected to exceed 40% this year.

Israeli minister says Iran's enrichment ramp moderate but a "march" towards bomb

Israeli minister says Iran's enrichment ramp moderate but a Israel's energy minister described as moderate on Sunday an announced increase of Iranian uranium enrichment but accused Tehran of breaking out of internationally agreed limitations on its nuclear projects and moving towards a potential bomb. "Iran has begun - while it is a moderate rise right now - but it has begun to raise, to break out of the uranium enrichment curbs that were imposed on it," Yuval Steinitz, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet, told Israel's Ynet TV. "It means ...

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has broken the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, international inspectors and Tehran said Monday, marking its first major departure from the unraveling agreement a year after the U. S . unilaterally withdrew from the

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran acknowledged Monday it had broken the limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by the 2015 nuclear deal Iran had been expected for days to acknowledge it broke the limit after earlier warning it would do so. It held off on publicly making an announcement as

While the other signatories to the nuclear deal ⁠— France, Germany and the U.K. as well as Russia and China ⁠— have tried to keep the agreement alive, Tehran says that unless they can shield it from the punishing effect of the American sanctions and revive trade, particularly in oil, Iran will continue to renege on its JCPOA obligations.

Zarif said Monday that Iran would reverse exceeding its stockpile limits "once European signatories to the nuclear deal meet their obligations." But engaging in that trade would mean falling foul of harsh U.S. secondary sanctions.

The Europeans have endeavored to come up with a mechanism to trade with Iran that avoids using dollars. But the success of this mechanism, called INSTEX, is dubious and so far, it's not enough for the Iranians.

EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic expressed "concern" at Iran's decision. "Noting that Iran has remained compliant for 14 months after the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA, as verified by the IAEA, we urge Iran to reverse this step and to refrain from further measures that undermine the nuclear deal," Kocijancic said Monday.

Here's what experts say is the real concern

Exceeding its nuclear stockpile, experts say, is the first step in Iran's strategy to pressure the non-U.S. members of the deal, raise the stakes with Washington, push back against sanctions and try to create leverage with the U.S. where they had none before.

"I think what's more concerning are the measures Iran has planned for after the 7th of July," Tabrizi said, referring to Iran's threat to exceed its JCPOA enrichment cap of 3.67% and reverse the modernization of its Arak heavy water research reactor, which under the deal was being altered to dismantle its ability to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran's July 7 deadline, after which it plans to exceed its JCPOA enrichment cap of 3.67%, the amount allowed for civilian nuclear power development, is serious, many analysts say. Weapons-grade enrichment is 90%, but according to nuclear experts, reaching 3 to 4% enrichment equates to roughly two-thirds of the work done toward that 90% figure, as any increases beyond that seemingly small amount disproportionately speed up breakout time.

"These are the two things I think are more concerning between now and then," Tabrizi said. "Iran is saying something needs to happen … They want to demonstrate that 'we can still comply with the agreement. But if the remaining parties don't do anything, we will go ahead with our decision'."

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