Iran is abandoning any remaining limits on uranium enrichment imposed in the 2015 nuclear agreement, as a response to the U.S. airstrike that killed one of its top military leaders while he was travelling in Baghdad, Iraq.
On Sunday, Iran officially ended its agreed uranium enrichment limits that were part of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal. According to the BBC, Iran announced the complete end of its part in the agreement at the conclusion of a meeting of the Iranian cabinet in the capital city of Tehran.
“Iran will continue its nuclear enrichment with no limitations and based on its technical needs,” the Iranian statement declared.
The statement did not say Iran was withdrawing entirely from the deal and suggested they would still comply with the UN’s nuclear regulatory agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Further, the statement expressed Iran would return to its prior uranium enrichment limits once other countries honored commitments to Iranian concessions in the deal, such as its ability to sell oil and access the income of its oil sales.
U.S. sanctions currently inhibit Iran’s ability to benefit from its oil sales.
The end of Iran’s commitment to the agreement could pave the way for renewed Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons.
U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear agreement in 2018, which he said was “defective at its core.” Trump wanted to renegotiate a deal with an indefinite end to Iran’s nuclear program.
Additional rounds of sanctions have been levied against Iran in recent months, amid Iranian moves to increase uranium enrichment in violation of the deal.
Iran’s latest move, announcing a total end to the agreement, comes amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran, with threats of military strikes back and forth between the two countries, following the U.S. strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the Qud’s Force unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
Soleimani was killed alongside members of pro-Iranian Iraqi militias. The Iranian-backed militias had been the targets of earlier U.S. airstrikes after they launched rocket attacks in Iraq, that resulted in the death of a U.S. citizen and injured others.