Advertisement
  1. Nation & World

Reports: Iran enriching uranium to 4.5%, breaking deal limit

In this May 28, 2019 photo, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi speaks at a media conference in Tehran, Iran. Iran remains open to diplomacy to save its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers but has “no hope” in the international community, the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday, July 8, 2019, as the Islamic Republic broke the limit the agreement put on its enrichment of uranium. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Published Jul. 8

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran began enriching uranium Monday to 4.5%, breaking the limit set by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, semi-official news agencies in the country reported.

The acknowledgement by the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran comes a day after Iran pledged to break the deal's limit of 3.67%.

The decision to ramp up uranium enrichment came less than a week after Iran acknowledged breaking the 661-pound limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile.

Experts warn higher enrichment and a growing stockpile could begin to narrow the one-year window Iran would need to have enough material for an atomic bomb, something Iran denies it wants but the deal prevented.

The future of the accord that President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the U.S. from a year ago remains in question. While Iran's recent measures to increase enrichment and break its low-enriched uranium stockpile limit could be easily reversed, Europe has struggled to respond, even after getting a 60-day warning that the increase was coming.

Meanwhile, experts fear a miscalculation in the crisis could explode into open conflict, as Trump already has nearly bombed Iran over Tehran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone.

Trump warned Tehran on Sunday that "Iran better be careful." He didn't elaborate on what actions the U.S. might consider, but Trump told reporters: "Iran's doing a lot of bad things."

RELATED: Iran calls new U.S. sanctions 'outrageous and idiotic'

Iran has been closely monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog. The IAEA said it was waiting for a report from its inspectors before commenting on Iran's move.

Enriched uranium at the 3.67% level is enough for peaceful pursuits but is far below weapons-grade levels of 90%.

The semi-official news agencies ISNA and Fars reported the 4.5% enrichment figure, citing Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran's nuclear agency.

Kamalvandi separately hinted in a state television interview aired Monday that the country might consider going to 20% enrichment or higher as a third step, if the material is needed. That would worry nuclear nonproliferation experts, as 20% is a short technical step away from reaching weapons-grade levels of 90%. Kamalvandi also suggested using new or more centrifuges, which are limited by the deal.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Monday said Iran appreciated the efforts of some nations to save the deal, but offered a jaded tone on whether Tehran trusted anyone in the negotiations.

"We have no hope nor trust in anyone nor any country but the door of diplomacy is open," Mousavi said.

He also gave a sharp, yet unelaborated warning to Europe about another 60-day deadline Iran set Sunday. That deadline will come Sept. 5, though Iran's senior Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri on Monday described the deadline as being Sept. 7. The two dates could not be immediately reconciled.

"If the remaining countries in the deal, especially the Europeans, do not fulfill their commitments seriously, and not do anything more than talk, Iran's third step will be harder, more steadfast and somehow stunning," he said.

Meanwhile, Mousavi said he didn't know where an Iranian supertanker was heading when it was seized off the coast of Gibraltar. Authorities there say they seized the Grace 1, believed to be carrying over 2 million barrels of oil, over European Union sanctions on Syria — though Spain said the seizure came at the request of the U.S.

Hard-liners in Iran have demanded a British oil tanker be seized in response. State TV said Britain's ambassador to Tehran had been summoned for a third time on Monday.

A lawmaker also has suggested Iran charge ships moving through the Strait of Hormuz, something Mousavi dismissed while insisting Iran's right to patrol the waters off their coast.

"We are responsible for maritime protection of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. This is our region. This is our gulf," he said, reiterating Iran's longtime stance. "This is our innate duty to secure this region and sustain its security. Countries that claim from thousands of miles from here that they should guarantee the maritime security here are speaking exaggeratedly."

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. In this Nov. 2, 2017, photo, Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, speaks with reporters following a day of questions from the House Intelligence Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE  |  AP
    The finding is part of a Justice Department inspector general investigation into the FBI’s probe of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
  2. President Donald Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House, Tuesday, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci) EVAN VUCCI  |  AP
    The President called in to “Fox & Friends” to say he was trying to root out corruption in the Eastern European nation when he withheld aid over the summer.
  3. Attorney General William Barr steps off an aircraft at Glacier Park International Airport, Thursday, in Kalispell, Mont. Barr is scheduled Friday to visit Flathead Reservation to address the issue of missing and murdered indigenous persons. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) PATRICK SEMANSKY  |  AP
    William Barr’s comments come days after two correctional officers who were responsible for guarding the wealthy financier when he died were charged with falsifying prison records.
  4. Check tampabay.com for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    Prosecutors say the woman sent more than 47,000 texts to her boyfriend including many urging him to “go kill yourself.”
  5. David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testifies before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ANDREW HARNIK  |  AP
    Key impeachment witnesses said it was clear Rudy Giuliani was pursuing political investigations of Democrats in Ukraine.
  6. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., attends a ceremony to unveil a portrait honoring former Speaker of the House John Boehner on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, in Washington. (AP Photo/Michael A. McCoy) MICHAEL A. MCCOY  |  AP
    The bill would keep federal agencies up and running through Dec. 20 and avert a government shutdown after midnight Thursday.
  7. Should we stop changing our clocks twice a year? CHARLES KRUPA  |  AP
    The Republican senator, along with Sen. Rick Scott, introduced the Sunshine Protection Act earlier this year.
  8. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged Netanyahu with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three different scandals. It is the first time a sitting Israeli prime minister has been charged with a crime. Mandelblit was set to issue a formal statement later Thursday. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty) ODED BALILTY  |  AP
    Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged Netanyahu with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three different scandals.
  9. Riley Kinn pauses during an interview in Fostoria, Ohio, on Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019. Although Kinn was assured by the Diocese of Toledo, Ohio, that he'd have the chance to share his story with an independent review board, he never got the opportunity. After the diocese sent a retired police detective to interview him, who took names of others who could back his account, he learned by letter that the board had found his allegations “unsubstantiated.” Toledo Diocese spokeswoman Kelly Donaghy said the review board doesn’t promise victims they can testify, but examines each case in turn. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) PAUL SANCYA  |  AP
    Review boards appointed by bishops and operating in secrecy have routinely undermined sex abuse claims from victims, shielded accused priests and helped the church avoid payouts.
  10. Zum driver Stacey Patrick, right, waves goodbye to student Saahas Kohli, left, and his mother, Alpa Kohli, obscured behind her son, as he returns home from school in Saratoga, Calif. A handful of ride-hailing companies have surfaced that allow parents to order rides, and in some cases childcare, for children using smartphone apps. The promise is alluring at a time when children are expected to accomplish a dizzying array of extracurricular activities and the boundaries between work and home have blurred. But the companies face hurdles convincing parents that a stranger hired by a ride-hailing company is trustworthy enough to ferry their most precious passengers. (AP Photo/Ben Margot) BEN MARGOT  |  AP
    Ride-hailing companies resolve a dilemma many parents face: how to pick up your kids from school while holding a full-time job.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement