Iran speeds up uranium enrichment

By AAP Newswire

Iran says it will surpass the uranium-stockpile limit set by its nuclear deal in the next 10 days, raising pressure on Europeans trying to save the accord a year after the US withdrew from it.

The announcement by Iran's nuclear agency marked yet another deadline set by Tehran. President Hassan Rouhani has already warned that a new deal needs to be in place by July 7 or the Islamic Republic would increase its enrichment of uranium.

Atomic energy spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi suggested that Iran's enrichment could reach up to 20%, just a step away from weapons-grade levels.

The development follows apparent attacks last week in the Strait of Hormuz on oil tankers, that Washington has blamed on Iran.

Iran has denied being involved.

US sanctions have deeply cut into its sale of Iran's crude oil abroad and sent its economy into freefall.

The announcement seems timed to coincide with a meeting of European foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

Federica Mogherini, the European Union's top diplomat, said Iran was still technically compliant and she would await the next report on the issue from the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iran's announcement that it's on the verge of surpassing the uranium-stockpile limit set by the nuclear agreement has put the US in the awkward position of having to push Iran to abide by the deal that President Donald Trump has disparaged.