WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump has issued a warning to Iran after the country moved to increase uranium enrichment beyond the purity threshold reached in a landmark nuclear deal Washington pulled out of last year.
Iran made the expected move last week, putting it no longer in compliance with the deal agreed in 2015 with the US under then-President Barack Obama and five other nations. Tehran had warned it would increase enrichment following a 60-day ultimatum the country gave to the European signatories of the deal to ease sanctions on its banking and oil sectors.
Speaking Sunday, President Trump said “Iran better be careful.”
“Because you enrich for one reason and I won’t tell you what the reason is. But it’s no good they better be careful,” he said before boarding Air Force One in New Jersey.
Iran announced Sunday that it has begun enriching uranium past 3.67%. The level of enrichment then surpassed 4.5% on Monday, Behrooz Kamalvandi, the spokesperson for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, told Iranian news agency ISNA.
“Iran is doing a lot of bad things,” President Trump said. “The way they want it they would have automatic rights to have nuclear weapons. Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.”
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said in May that Iran would no longer abide by some of its commitments regarding the production of fissile material, due to Washington’s own reneging on the agreement and increased diplomatic and military pressure on Tehran.
Tehran has long maintained that it is not developing a nuclear weapons program and its enrichment and research is focused on non-military uses.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’ inspectors will verify Iran’s announcement to increase the level of uranium enrichment, the agency said Sunday.
“We are aware of Iran’s announcement related to its uranium enrichment level,” said IAEA spokesman Fredrik Dahl, adding that “inspectors in Iran will report to our headquarters as soon as they verify the announced development.”
Iran is facing increasing pressure from Washington and its allies, amid intense hostility from Washington and disputes over shipping in the Persian Gulf and nearby waters.
Last week, British forces stormed an Iranian tanker in the UK territory of Gibraltar, saying it was believed to have been carrying oil to Syria, in possible violation of European Union sanctions.
Mohsen Rezaee, who is currently Secretary of the Expediency Discernment Council — an advisory body to Iran’s Supreme Leader — tweeted that “if the UK does not release the Iranian oil tanker, our officials are duty-bound to reciprocate and seize a British oil tanker.”