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Iran warned this weekend that it was close to exceeding the level of uranium enrichment agreed under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, commonly called the Iran nuclear deal. The move, according to S&P Global Platts, aims to spur the European signatories of the JCPOA into action after they failed to find a way to continue supporting Iran after the United States pulled out of the deal last year.
"From today, we officially pass the limit of 3.67% for uranium enrichment,” Iran’s government spokesman said yesterday.
“Within a few hours, the process of enrichment more than 3.67% [purity] starts,” said the spokesman of the country’s atomic energy organization.
This would be the second time Iran has breached the terms of the JCPOA, after last week it exceeded the limits of uranium stockpiles.
The European signatories of the nuclear deal—France, Germany, and the UK—have been trying to keep Iran in line, most recently by setting up a special vehicle aimed at facilitating trade with Iran in the context of U.S. sanctions. However, the vehicle only facilitates trade in goods not covered by the sanctions, which target Iran’s vital oil sector.
Naturally, Iran has expressed its dissatisfaction with the arrangement. The country gave the EU 60 days to come up with an effective solution to its oil export problem, and the EU failed to do so.
Matters were made worse after last week the UK seized an Iranian oil tanker carrying oil to Syria, which is under EU sanctions. Before that, tension between the UK and Iran increased after the UK joined the U.S. in its conclusion that no other country but Iran “could plausibly be responsible” for the attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
In response to the tanker seizure, Iran has threatened to seize a British tanker, with sources from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps going as far as to say they could "Potentially stop any tanker headed towards the UK and sailing in the Gulf."
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.