Britain says Iranian nuclear breach is ‘extremely worrying’

Iran’s announcement that it has breached the limit on its stockpile of enriched uranium under the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal is “extremely concerning,” Britain has said.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif confirmed on Monday the 300 kilogram limit permitted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) had been exceeded.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was “deeply worried” by the announcement.

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“UK remains committed to making deal work and using all diplomatic tools to de-escalate regional tensions,” he tweeted.

“I urge Iran to avoid any further steps away from JCPoA and come back into compliance.”

Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “Iran’s announcement is extremely concerning.

“We will continue working with our JCPoA partners – in particularly with Germany and France – to keep the nuclear deal in place. This is in our shared security interests.

“We have been consistently clear that our commitment to the JCPoA depends on Iran complying in full with the terms of the deal and we urge them to reverse this step.”

The breach of the 300 kilogram limit was later confirmed by the world nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Authority.

Mr Zarif told reporters in Tehran: “We had previously announced this and we have said it transparently what we are going to do.

“We are going to act according to what we have announced and we consider it our right reserved in the nuclear deal.”

Iran has been warning it intended to step its production of low-enriched uranium – which can be used to make reactor fuel and potentially nuclear weapons – in response to US sanctions after President Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement.

The move appears designed to increase pressure on the European signatories to the JCPoA to alleviate the impact of the US measures.

Although Britain, Germany and France continue to support the deal – which lifted international sanctions in return for Iran curbing its nuclear activities – in practice they have found it difficult to get round US sanctions.

With the Iranian economy buckling under the US measures, tensions in the region have been rising.

Last month, Mr Trump said he had ordered air strikes on Iran in retaliation for the shooting down of an American drone, only to call them off at the last minute.