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Iran Had an 'Unwelcome Milestone.' Now, a New Defiance

Uranium enrichment will be 'as much as we want it to be,' President Hassan Rouhani says
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 3, 2019 8:11 AM CDT
In this photo, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks in Tehran, Iran, on Wednesday.   (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

(Newser) – Iran announced an "unwelcome milestone" this week: It has 660 pounds of low-enriched uranium stockpiled, a violation of the 2015 nuclear deal the US pulled out of last year. The Washington Post notes that reserve on its own doesn't bring the country much closer to being able to craft nuclear weapons, as that requires high-enriched uranium, but Iran's newest warning threatens to expedite that process. "Our enrichment rate is not going to be 3.67% anymore," President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday. "It's going to be as much as we want it to be." The figure Rouhani cites is a reference to the cap on the enrichment allowed by the nuclear deal, which Iran says it shouldn't have to adhere to anymore since the US removed itself and reimposed sanctions.

Enrichment levels below that 3.67% mark can fuel nuclear power plants but can't fuel weapons (that requires a 90% enrichment). Pushing beyond that 3.67% threshold, however, can cut down on the "break out" time needed to acquire high-enriched uranium. If Iran breaches that level, the nations still in the deal with Iran might be forced to impose their own sanctions, which could shutter the deal entirely. "Our advice to Europe and the United States is to go back to logic and to the negotiating table," Rouhani said, adding Iran could start upping enrichment as soon as Sunday, per Fox News. President Trump weighed in early Wednesday, tweeting, "Iran was violating the 150 Billion Dollar (plus 1.8 Billion Dollar in CASH) Nuclear Deal with the United States, and others who paid NOTHING, long before I became President - and they have now breached their stockpile limit. Not good!" (Read more Iran stories.)

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