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Iran passes new nuclear deal limit as China blames US for crisis

Tehran begins enriching uranium beyond deal limit as Beijing denounces US's 'unilateral bullying'.

Iran has passed the uranium enrichment cap set in its 2015 nuclear deal, marking the second time in a week that it made good on a promise to reduce compliance with the international pact following the United States‘ unilateral exit last year.

The announcement on Monday from Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization came amid growing frustration in Tehran over a failure by the landmark accord’s remaining signatories to deliver on its promised economic benefits.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the nuclear agency, confirmed Tehran had enriched uranium beyond the 3.67 percent purity that the deal allows, passing 4.5 percent, according to the Iranian students’ news agency ISNA. 

On July 1, Iran passed the uranium stockpile limit permitted by the deal, and officials on Sunday pledged to keep scaling back their commitments every 60 days unless Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia protected it from the punishing sanctions imposed by the US following its withdrawal.

A day after US officials threatened Iran with further “sanctions and isolation”, some of the pact’s other parties hit out at Washington for escalating the crisis that has thrown into question the future of the accord, which offered Iran relief from sanctions in exchange for drastic limits on its nuclear programme.

“The facts show that unilateral bullying has already become a worsening tumour,” Geng Shuang, spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, told a press briefing in Beijing on Monday. 

Iran set to exceed uranium enrichment limit in 2015 nuclear deal (3:23)

“The maximum pressure exerted by the US on Iran is the root cause of the Iranian nuclear crisis,” he said.

Moscow also blamed Washington and pledged to pursue diplomatic efforts to salvage the deal, with Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, saying on Monday: “Russia aims to continue dialogue and efforts on the diplomatic front.

“Russia and President [Vladimir] Putin warned of the consequences that would be imminent after one of the countries decided to end its obligations and exit the deal.”

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