Iran Restarts Major Nuclear Enrichment in Violation of Deal as Payback for U.S. Moves

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani / Getty Images

Iranian leaders announced on Wednesday that the country would increase production of enriched uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, as payback for the Trump administration's recent decision to increase sanctions on Tehran and cripple its lucrative oil industry.

Iran will no longer adhere to limits on the amount of enriched uranium and heavy water, another nuclear byproduct that can be used as fuel for a weapon, it keeps in the country, despite restrictions on these sensitive nuclear materials that have required Iran to limit amount it produces and ship it out of the country to ensure it is not used for a weapon.

Iranian leaders announced they will no longer adhere to these restrictions in response to a package of crippling sanctions by the United States that have targeted Iran's trade in crude oil. Iranian regime leaders are angry that major European countries who are still party to the nuclear deal have not helped Iran skirt the U.S. sanctions.

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The announcement comes as the United States sends military assets to the region amid a flurry of threats by Tehran to choke off critical international shipping lanes. U.S. intelligence officials also have assessed Iran is planning several terrorist attacks on U.S. interests.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran declares that at the current stage, it does not any more see itself committed to respecting the limitations on keeping enriched uranium and heavy water reserves," Iran's Supreme National Security Council said in a statement.

Iran warned China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany—countries still part of the nuclear deal that President Donald Trump abandoned last year—that it will cross nuclear red lines until it is compensated by these countries.

The nations have "60 days to put into action their nuclear deal undertakings," mainly in the banking and oil arenas. "In case these countries fail to meet Iran's demands, the Islamic Republic of Iran will cease implementation of restrictions on uranium enrichment levels and measures related to the modernization of Arak Heavy Water Reactor as well," the statement said.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, confirmed Tehran's increased nuclear work, saying the country will no longer uphold its commitments under the nuclear deal.

"We are no more required to respect the ceiling of 300kg of 3.67% enriched uranium and 130-ton ceiling for heavy water, for 60 days," Salehi was quoted as saying.

"Based on the paragraph 26 of the nuclear deal, Iran can suspend [implementation of] a part of the nuclear deal whenever it recognizes that the other side has not acted well in compliance with its undertakings, and it can reassess the behavior of the other side," Salehi claimed.

Meanwhile, Tehran continues to issue threats to the United States and its military assets in the region.

Iranian military leaders said they are ready to deliver a "crushing response" to any party that interferes in the country's newly amped up nuclear work.

"The General Staff of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Armed Forces supports the decision and assures the honorable and revolutionary Iranian nation that we will pass thorough this hard bottleneck, relying on the Islamic Republic's might, internal power, strengthening of internal power and further attention to the economy of resistance and will prevent the enemy from attaining its cruel goals again," Iran's Armed Forces said in a statement.