TEHRAN - Iran is now enriching more uranium on a daily basis than it did before the 2015 nuclear deal President Hassan Rouhani declared Thursday.
"Today, we are under no restrictions in the area of nuclear energy," he said during a speech in Tehran.
"Our daily enrichment (of uranium) is higher than it was before... the agreement," he added, in remarks apparently directed at Iranian ultraconservatives who denounce his nuclear policy as a total failure.
Iran has gradually scaled back it’s commitments to the agreement in retaliation to US President Donald Trump fulfilling his campaign promise of exiting from the deal in 2018,
Iran then announced on January 5 that it was abandoning all imposed limits, despite constantly denying an intention to produce nuclear weapons, and paradoxically maintaining that the deal was still alive.
Rouhani, who originally instigated nuclear negotiations, also stated his willingness to continue dialogue.
European signatories to the deal Germany, France and Britain, referred to as E3, have attempted to keep it intact, but since Tehran has resumed research and development of centrifuges, fears have grown the they will soon reach technological breakthroughs that reduce the ‘break-out’ time they would need to create a nuclear bomb.
This resulted in them triggering a ‘dispute mechanism’ in response to violations, to which Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javid Zarif responded by likening the US to a bully whose threats the E3 have succumbed to.
“Pressure has increased on Iran, but we continue to progress,” said Rouhani in his speech.
How much is too much enrichment?
Iran is now producing uranium enriched beyond the 3.67 percent set by the agreement, and no longer adheres to the limit of 300 kilogrammes (660 pounds) imposed on its enriched uranium stocks.
But Rouhani did not specify whether Iran was now producing a greater quantity of enriched uranium, or whether it was enriching ore with uranium 235 isotopes at a higher level than before the deal.
During the deal’s implementation Iran’s uranium production was at 5 percent, far below the 90 percent required to produce an atomic bomb, and below the 20 percent enrichment they had prior to the commitment.
E3 have so far resisted calls from Washington to follow their lead and abandon the deal, with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently calling for Trump to replace it with a new deal of his own.
But Rouhani dismissed the proposal, and criticised Trump for breaking his promises.
A source close to the International Atomic Energy Agency said on January 10 that there had been "no notable change in Iran's nuclear activity" since January 5.
The 2015 agreement was struck in Vienna between Iran and France, Britain, Germany, the United States, China and Russia.
Iran agreed to limiting their uranium enrichment and allowing periodic inspections of nuclear facilitates in return for a lifting of sanctions.