Iran has confirmed it will breach the 2015 nuclear deal for the first time by beginning to speed up the enrichment of uranium, taking stocks above permitted limits.

The ultimatum is both an expression of frustration and intended as a spur to the three EU countries that signed the agreement to do more to keep their end of the bargain by increasing trade with Iran.

Despite numerous promises, the EU has not set up a trading mechanism that gives European businesses any confidence they can trade with Iran without falling foul of US sanctions.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said: “The deadline of the Atomic Energy Organization for passing the production of enriched uranium from the 300kg border will end tomorrow [Thursday]. With the end of this deadline, the speed of enrichment will speed up.”

Iran’s supreme national security council had confirmed on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic would take further, potentially more serious, steps on 7 July to reduce its commitments under the deal. The second step would involve going beyond the 3.67% restriction on enriching uranium and restarting the development of a heavy-water reactor, which has been put on hold.

The staged withdrawal from the nuclear deal, which is not an international treaty in law but is supported by UN security council resolutions, was first set out on 8 May, giving the EU a two-month ultimatum.

The confirmation that Iran will start to breach the agreement on Thursday is likely to increase tensions between Washington and Tehran.

The White House has signalled it will use the breach to demand Germany, France and the UK join the US in pulling out of the deal, but that is likely to be resisted by Brussels, which is heavily invested in what it regards as the crowning achievement of multilateral diplomacy. At a minimum, the EU is likely to put the Iranian decision into the dispute mechanism contained within the deal.

The EU countries have been urging Iran to show further patience, but at the same time, caught up in the tensions between Washington and Iran, they are beginning to lose leverage.

Any friction between the three countries on how to react to the Iranian breach has so far been hidden. The UK foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, told MPs: “It is absolutely essential that [Iran] sticks to that deal in its entirety for it to be preserved and for us to have a nuclear-free Middle East.”

A common EU3 statement on Monday did not go that far, and it is likely Emmanuel Macron, the French president, will define the response by talking to many of the main protagonists, including the US president, Donald Trump, the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, the Japanese prime minister, Shinzō Abe, and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, at the G20 summit in Osaka starting on Friday.

Macron spoke with Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday and was told by the Iranian president that “Iran’s adherence to the deal after the United States left was based on a promise from European parties to guarantee economic benefits, including solving issues of banking relations and oil sales”. He told Macron none of these promises had been realised.

Source » theguardian