The United States warned on Sunday, July 7, that Iran's move to raise its stockpile limit of enriched uranium could lead to more sanctions on the nation.
US President Donald Trump said that Iran should be 'careful' of future implications of the move. "Iran better be careful, because you enrich for one reason, and I won't tell you what that reason is. But it's no good. They better be careful," Trump told reporters in Morrison, New Jersey.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also warned Iran that its decision to violate the nuclear stockpile limit "will lead to isolation and sanctions". He said this in a tweet posted on Sunday, shortly after Iran's aggressive stance was reported.
Iran’s latest expansion of its nuclear program will lead to further isolation and sanctions. Nations should restore the longstanding standard of no enrichment for Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s regime, armed with nuclear weapons, would pose an even greater danger to the world.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) July 7, 2019
Tensions escalated after Iran declared that it would increase its uranium enrichment stockpile to 5 per cent, breaching the internationally agreed 3.7 per cent limit under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
However, Iran has warned that it would keep 'reducing its commitments' every 60 days if the European countries agree to protect Iran from the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif called the move as a 'remedial step' by Iran against 'US economic terrorism.'
Today, Iran is taking its second round of remedial steps under Para 36 of the JCPOA. We reserve the right to continue to exercise legal remedies within JCPOA to protect our interests in the face of US #EconomicTerrorism. All such steps are reversible only through E3 compliance.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) July 7, 2019
While the increase is enough to generate to civil nuclear power, The Guardian reported that the 5 per cent increase is still below the 20 per cent threshold that indicates the development of a nuclear bomb.
The signatories to the nuclear deal include China, France, Germany, European Union, Iran, Russia and the United Kingdom.
Enriched uranium is used to make nuclear reactor fuel as well as nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitors supplies and processes to restrict nuclear weapon proliferation.
On July 1, both Tehran and atomic energy monitor confirmed that Iran exceeded the agreed limit. It is claimed that it stepped up its production of the contentious item in retaliation to the sanctions imposed by the US after the Trump administration abandoned the Iran nuclear deal in 2016.
US has declared that it would impose sanctions on countries that will purchase ballistic missile development from Iran under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), 2017. It also imposed similar sanctions on countries that import Iranian oil.
Tensions escalated between the US and Iran recently, after Trump pulled back from issuing airstrikes on Iran and additional troops to the region in the last minute after Islamic Revolutionary Guards shot down a US drone last month.
The IAEA and Tehran have not revealed how much uranium Iran has in total. But at the time of signing the deal in 2015, it was reported that Iran needed anywhere from several weeks to three months to have enough material for a nuclear bomb.