Iran's belligerence, threats raise concern

Tehran says will breach nuclear deal enrichment limit, threatens to quit NPT

This file photo shows a general view of the water facility at Arak south-west of the Iranian capital Tehran. — AFP

DUBAI/LONDON — Iran said on Monday it would breach internationally agreed curbs on its stock of low-enriched uranium in 10 days, a move likely to worsen tensions with Washington.

It also threatened to quit a treaty against the spread of nuclear weapons.

In an indication of concern at Iran's announcements, Germany urged Tehran to meet all its obligations under the 2015 accord. Britain said if Iran breached limits agreed under the deal then London would look at "all options".

In an announcement drawing signs of Western unease, Iran's Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said, "We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment (of uranium) and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will bypass the 300 kg limit."

"Iran's reserves are every day increasing at a more rapid rate," he told state TV, adding that "the move will be reversed once other parties fulfill their commitments."

Kamalvandi, in a news conference at Iran's Arak heavy water nuclear reactor which has been reconfigured under the deal, said Tehran could rebuild the underground facility to make it functional. Heavy water can be employed in reactors to produce plutonium, a fuel used in nuclear warheads.

Mojtaba Zolnour, head of parliament's nuclear committee, said Iran would quit the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) against the spread of nuclear weapons unless European powers saved the separate 2015 atomic deal.

"There is not much time left until the end of the 60 days ultimatum given by Iran to the Europeans to save the (2015) deal. After that Iran will suspend implementation of the Non-proliferation Treaty," said Zolnour.

Meanwhile, Iraq said it was looking at contingency plans in case spiraling US-Iran tensions cut off its oil exports through the Gulf.

Iraq, the second-largest oil producer among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), is drawing up an action plan in case of further escalation, according to oil ministry spokesman Assem Jihad. — Agencies