Trump claims Iran has 'long' enriched beyond deal terms

By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday Iran has historically been in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal's limits on uranium enrichment, suggesting Tehran has been misleading the international community.

"Iran has long been secretly 'enriching,' in total violation of the terrible 150 Billion Dollar deal made by John Kerry and the Obama Administration," Trump said on Twitter without providing any evidence to substantiate his claim.

The international body tasked with monitoring the deal's implementation has repeatedly and consistently said Iran has been in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

But Tehran said Monday it started enriching uranium beyond the deal's 3.67% limit as part of scaling down of its commitments under the nuclear pact.

The announcement is a bid to ramp up pressure on European nations to provide the economic benefits Iran was supposed to receive under the pact, but which Trump and his administration have sought to undermine.

After formally withdrawing from the deal in May 2018, Trump has reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic, including on its export of crude oil, which have badly damaged the Iranian economy.

The Trump administration is hoping to bring Iran back into negotiations that the administration wants to not only address Iran's nuclear program, but other activities it considers to be destabilizing.

"Remember, that deal was to expire in a short number of years," Trump said. "Sanctions will soon be increased, substantially!"

Under the deal, Iran agreed to destroy its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98%.

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iran "can never be allowed to enrich uranium at any level," accusing Tehran of using its "nuclear program to extort the international community and threaten regional security".