Iran said Sunday that it was ending its commitment to limit enrichment of uranium as part of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, more fallout from the U.S. strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal in May 2018, renewing tensions between the two countries that reached new heights after Friday’s air strike.
Iran’s state television reported Sunday that it will no longer abide by the limits of the deal, which restricted nuclear development in exchange for the easing of crippling economic sanctions.
The agreement placed limits on Tehran’s uranium enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium as well as research and development in its nuclear activities.
America’s European allies have attempted to salvage the deal despite Trump’s decision to withdraw and reimpose sanctions, but Iran has gradually reduced its commitments and now leaves the deal in tatters.
The country’s foreign ministry said earlier Sunday that recent events meant it would take an even bigger step away from the deal than initially planned.
The news came as fallout from the killing of Soleimani, one of Iran’s most powerful military and political figures, stoked growing tensions in the Middle East.
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Huge crowds flooded streets in Iran and Iraq this weekend to pay their respects to Soleimani.
As the Islamic Republic welcomed Soleimani’s body home for a grand funeral, its leaders continued to vow revenge for his death.
The president issued new threats late Saturday, saying the U.S. would attack 52 sites important to the country and its culture if Tehran retaliates against Americans or U.S. assets.
Widespread economic discontent has gripped the country since May last year, when Trump imposed crushing sanctions after unilaterally withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Iran’s foreign ministry had said Sunday officials would meet to discuss their next step away from the nuclear deal, warning it would be an even bigger step than initially planned given recent events.
Three days of national mourning were declared in the wake of Soleimani’s death, while the world held its breath for Iran’s response.
The Trump administration has previously acknowledged that Iran was living up to the agreement, but alleges it also gave the Islamic republic cover to pursue its ballistic weapons program and deepen its regional influence.
Washington subsequently restored the crippling sanctions, exacerbating a severe economic crisis.
Western governments had long feared Iran’s atomic program could allow it to build nuclear weapons. Iran has always maintained its program is for peaceful purposes.
Under terms of the deal, Iran could keep a stockpile of no more than 660 pounds of low-enriched uranium. That’s compared to the 22,046 pounds of higher-enriched uranium it once had.
Trump has made countering Iran a central pillar of his foreign policy.
Facing an impeachment trial in Washington over his dealings with Ukraine and negotiations with North Korea stalled despite his professed admiration for Kim Jong Un, the president now faces the prospect of Tehran escalating its own nuclear ambitions in the face of his “maximum pressure” campaign.
This is a developing story, please check back for updates.