Iran threatens uranium enrichment, suspend ‘some’ nuclear deal commitments

Updated 16 May 2019

Iran threatens uranium enrichment, suspend ‘some’ nuclear deal commitments

  • President Hassan Rouhani said Iran will keep its excess uranium, setting a 60-day deadline for new terms to its nuclear deal
  • Iran has delivered letters to ambassadors outlining its partial withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers

TEHRAN: Iran’s president said Wednesday that it will begin keeping its excess uranium and heavy water from its nuclear program, setting a 60-day deadline for new terms to its nuclear deal with world powers before it will resume higher uranium enrichment.
Hassan Rouhani’s address to the nation came on the anniversary of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw America from the atomic accord. Rouhani said Iran wanted to negotiate new terms with remaining partners in the deal, but acknowledged that the situation was dire.
“This surgery is to save the (deal), not destroy it,” Rouhani said.
The 2015 deal saw sanctions on Iran lifted in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. After the US withdrew from the accord it restored crippling sanctions on Iran, exacerbating a severe economic crisis.


Related: Europe ‘will reimpose sanctions’ if Iran fails nuclear deal commitments

Iran sent letters Wednesday on its decision to the leaders of Britain, China, the European Union, France and Germany. All were signatories to the nuclear deal and continue to support it. A letter was also to go to Russia.
“If the five countries join negotiations and help Iran to reach its benefits in the field of oil and banking, Iran will return to its commitments according to the nuclear deal,” Rouhani said.
There was no immediate response from the US However, the White House said Sunday it would dispatch an aircraft carrier and a bomber wing to the Persian Gulf over what it described as a new threat from Iran.
Under terms of the deal, Iran can keep a stockpile of no more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of low-enriched uranium. That’s compared to the 10,000 kilograms (22,046 pounds) of higher-enriched uranium it once had.
The US last week ended deals allowing Iran to exchange its enriched uranium for unrefined yellowcake uranium with Russia, as well as it being able to sell its heavy water to Oman. The US also has ended waivers for nations buying Iranian crude oil, a key source of revenue for Iran’s government.
Currently, the accord limits Iran to enriching uranium to 3.67%, which can fuel a commercial nuclear power plant. Weapons-grade uranium needs to be enriched to around 90%. However, once a country enriches uranium to around 20%, scientists say the time needed to reach 90% is halved. Iran has previously enriched to 20%.


Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

Updated 49 min 26 sec ago

Banks in Lebanon reopen amid security increase

  • Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities

BEIRUT: Banks in Lebanon will reopen on Tuesday after the Association of Banks in Lebanon approved measures to ease the anger of depositors and customers. 

More than 3,000 members of Beirut’s police, the regional gendarmerie, the judicial police, and the information division of the Internal Security Forces will provide protection to banks and their employees, who carried out an open strike for a week.

They did so due to customers’ anger over measures applied by banks on withdrawals and transfers amid Lebanon’s severe political and economic crisis, which sparked mass protests that have been ongoing for 33 days.

Two security guards will be placed in front of each bank, and security patrols will be conducted in cities.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon decided on Sunday to “stop restrictions on new funds transferred from abroad, provided that remittances abroad only cover urgent personal expenses.”

It also decided to lift restrictions on the circulation of checks, transfers, and the use of credit cards in Lebanon. 

As for the use of credit cards abroad, ceilings are determined by agreements between banks and customers.

The association has determined a maximum cash withdrawal rate of $1,000 per week for holders of current accounts in dollars, while checks issued in foreign currencies will be transferred into their account.

It has also urged customers to “use their credit cards, especially in Lebanese pounds, to buy their needs.”

Meanwhile, protesters are preparing to block roads leading to Parliament in the heart of Beirut on Tuesday, to prevent a legislative session from taking place. The session had already been postponed for a week.

In an attempt to placate protesters, the presidential palace’s media office said the president has ordered investigations into “financial crimes, waste, forgery, money laundering and suspicious transactions,” as well as “negligence at work, promotion of counterfeit medicines and suspicious reconciliation contracts.”