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Iran says it is enriching more uranium than before nuclear deal | World news


Iran is now enriching more uranium than it did before it agreed to a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015, the president said in a televised speech.

Hassan Rouhani said: “We are enriching more uranium before the deal was reached … Pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress.”

Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments under the nuclear deal in retaliation to Washington’s withdrawal from the pact in 2018 and its reimposition of sanctions that have crippled the country’s economy.

Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement in part because it did not address Iran’s support for armed groups across the region and its ballistic missile programme.

Iran continued to abide by the agreement until last summer, when it began openly breaching some of its limits, saying it would not be bound by the deal if it saw none of its promised economic benefits.

After the airstrike on 3 January that killed Gen Qassem Soleimani, the architect of Iran’s regional military operations, Iran said it would abandon all restrictions in the nuclear deal.

A rocket attack on an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk kills an American contractor and injures US and Iraqi soldiers. The US blames Shia militia group, Kata’ib Hizbullah (KH)

Protesters storm the US embassy in Baghdad, trapping diplomats inside while chanting “Death to America” and slogans in support of pro-Iranian militias. At one point they breached the main gate and smashed their way into several reception rooms. The rampage was carried out with the apparent connivance of local Iraqi security forces who allowed protesters inside the highly protected Green Zone

Thus far, however, it has only modestly increased its nuclear activity. In recent months it has boosted its enrichment of uranium to 4.5% higher than the 3.67% limit set by the agreement – but far from the 20% enrichment it was engaged in before the deal. Uranium must be enriched to 90% to be used in a nuclear weapon.

Britain, France and Germany have spent months trying to salvage the deal, but have not found a way to continue trading with Iran amid the tightened US sanctions. This week they triggered a dispute mechanism in the nuclear deal to try to bring Iran back into compliance. That process could lead to the snapback of international sanctions.

In his speech before the bankers, Rouhani acknowledged the sanctions had caused economic pain but said such considerations could not be separated from foreign policy and national security.

He also acknowledged the rising tensions with the US. “A single bullet can cause a war, and not shooting a single bullet can lead to peace,” he said, adding that his administration was seeking greater security.

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