MANAMA, Bahrain – European efforts to persuade Iran to push itself to the limits of the nuclear agreement have been inadequate, and the country will "soon" cross the borders of uranium supplies The semi-official news agency Fars reported Saturday, a move that could further escalate tensions with the United States.
Iran threatens to cross the limit of 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium that the country may own under the nuclear agreement, unless it receives the sanction relief promised by the agreement in return.
Crossing the border would be a symbolic step, but would not bring Iran much closer to building a nuclear weapon. The limit of 300 kilograms of uranium, enriched to 3.67 percent, is suitable for use in power plants, but far below the value of more than 90 percent enriched uranium, which is needed for fissile material in an atomic bomb.
Tense tension in the region. President Trump said last week that he was on the verge of launching an attack on Iran after his troops shot down a US surveillance drone in the Strait of Hormuz. The United States has also accused Iran of using magnetic screw mines to attack petrochemical tankers in the Gulf of Oman – which Tehran denies.
The US Air Force announced on Friday that they had their most advanced fighter jet, the F-22 Raptor, It was the first time that "American forces and interests were defended". The day before, pictures of planes were released that landed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.
The United States withdrew last year from the Obama-era nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers. Trump, who calls the deal "lazy," has since reintroduced all sanctions and imposed more, paralyzing the Iranian economy.
The remaining signers have tried to keep the deal alive. However, Iran has stated that it should no longer be bound by the terms of the agreement as it can not benefit as long as international companies are concerned about violations of US sanctions. Great Britain, France and Germany have sought to introduce a complicated barter system to enable European companies to continue their trade with Iran and to persuade it to comply with the agreement. After a meeting of the remaining signatories on Friday in Vienna, the European Union announced that the barter system is operational. Iran had initially welcomed this step as a "positive step" that it would "study".
On Saturday, an unnamed "informed source" cited by Fars pointed out that the European system had failed.
Trying "not to meet our demands," said the official. "Iran is determined to cut its commitments, and the limit of 300 kg of enriched uranium will soon be exceeded."
The official Iranian news agency IRNA made no similar statements. An article published by Tasnim, a news agency near Iranian hardliners, questioned whether Iranian President Hassan Rouhani would "fall for the European lollipop again," suggesting that there may still be some debate in the Islamic Republic gives how to react.
There are "concerns" that the Iranian government will fall for the "deficient" step and withdraw from its ultimatum to reduce its obligations to the nuclear deal, Tasnim's article said.
The barter system is limited in scope and aims to enable small and medium-sized enterprises to trade with Iran, with a focus on essential non-sanctioned medicines and humanitarian goods.
However, Iran has argued that it should sell oil as well.
Brian Hook, US Special Representative for Iran, told reporters in London on Friday that every country that buys Iranian oil must be sanctioned.
Iran had previously threatened to exceed its stockpile limits by Thursday before appearing to wait for the results of the Friday meeting in Vienna.