- Iran has announced it will breach the limit on its stockpile of enriched uranium that was set under a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
- Enriched uranium is produced by feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges to separate out the most fissile isotope,U-235.
- Under the nuclear deal,Iran is only permitted to produce low-enriched uranium which has a 3-4% concentration of U-235 and can be used to produce fuel for nuclear power plants.While the weapon grade uranium is 90% enriched or more.
- Iran has complained that European powers have failed to abide by their commitments to mitigate the effects on Iran economy of the sanctions that US President reinstated after abandoning the nuclear deal last year.
- Recently,US had stepped up pressure on Iran by ending exemptions from secondary sanctions for countries still buying Iranian oil.The move was intended to deny the Iranian government its principal source of revenue.
- Further,the Europeans have set up a mechanism that would allow goods to be bartered between Iranian and foreign companies without direct financial transactions.But the mechanism known as Instex is not yet operational.
- These developments come at a time of high tension in the Middle East, with the US accusing Iran of being behind attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.Iran has denied any involvement.
- Iran Nuclear deal which is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was announced in 2015.
- The deal was signed between Iran and the P5+1 group (US,UK, France, Russia, China and Germany).It restricts Iran’s nuclear programme in return for lifting most economic sanctions against it.
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