This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Tehran has told the European signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal that it would further reduce its compliance with the accord if they don’t provide relief from U.S. sanctions that have crippled the oil-rich nation’s economy.
Signatories Britain, France, and Germany have so far failed to prevent U.S. Donald Trump from trying to unilaterally force Iran to limit its nuclear activity and regional posture by crippling its vital oil trade.
Last year Washington exited the agreement, which lifted nuclear-related sanctions as long as Iran’s nuclear activities remained peaceful in nature.
After U.S. sanctions were reimposed, Iran recently threatened to block all energy exports out of the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of global oil passes, if it’s unable to sell oil as promised under the 2015 deal.
Iran said it had increased its stockpile of heavy water beyond the 130-ton limit, according to Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.
Tehran also exceeded the maximum reserve of 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium.
“What is certain is that by putting aside or suspending our commitments we will increase the speed of our nuclear activities,” Kamalvandi said.
He didn’t specify what Iran’s next step would be but indicated that Iran’s actions were reversible if the remaining signatories to the deal — Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany — would protect it from the effects of U.S. sanctions.
Since the sanctions were imposed, Iran’s oil production has plummeted to 300,000 barrels a day or less.
Its economy will shrink by 6 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund projects.
Unemployment remains high, at 12 percent.