Iran announced on Monday that it would be increasing uranium enrichment and will surpass the enrichment cap of 3.67% that was agreed upon in the nuclear deal signed with the Obama administration. Nuclear enrichment needed for weapons is 90%, a spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization said they would increase enrichment levels to 20% to use in their reactors.
Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal over a year ago and reinstated crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic, but many European nations still look to protect the deal. The spokesman, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said the European countries can still protect the deal if they can help shield Iran from U.S. sanctions.
"We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will bypass the 300 kilogram limit," Kamalvandi said on state TV, "There is still time … if European countries act…the move will be reversed once other parties fulfill their commitments."
A US state department official said the move was "nuclear blackmail." A spokesman for UK prime minister Theresa May said, "Should Iran cease meeting its nuclear commitments, we would then look at all options available to us."
After two oil Tankers were attacked last week in the Gulf of Oman, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, President Trump and the US Military were all quick to blame Iran with no conclusive evidence. This announcement from Iran will surely increase tensions between the two nations, President Trump has shown no sign of easing up on sanctions.
Dave DeCamp is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US Foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave.