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Iran breaks nuclear deal to raise levels of uranium enrichment

A handout picture provided by the Iranian presidency on July 3, 2019 shows President Hassan Rouhani chairing a cabinet meeting in the capital Tehran. - Rouhani said Iran will exceed the uranium enrichment limit it agreed in a 2015 deal with major powers, raising it "as much as necessary". "On July 7, our enrichment level will no longer be 3.67 percent. We will put aside this commitment. We will increase (the enrichment level) beyond 3.67 percent to as much as we want, as much as is necessary, as much as we need," Rouhani said during a cabinet meeting today. (Photo by HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY / AFP) / === RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / HO / IRANIAN PRESIDENCY" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ===HO/AFP/Getty Images

Iran has announced it will be raising the enrichment of its uranium, a move likely to spark further tensions between the nation and the US (Picture: AFP/Getty)

Iran has announced it will raise its enrichment of uranium, breaking a deal designed to make it harder for the nation to create a nuclear weapon.

Iran will produce uranium at 5 per cent enrichment, above the limit of 3.67 per cent, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said.

The announcement is in contradiction to their 2015 promise to other world powers, and is likely to exacerbate further tensions with the US.

It comes less than a week after Iran admitted to breaking the deals 300kg limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile.

Uranium can be used as fuel for nuclear power planes, but can also be developed into nuclear weapons.

epa07687216 (FILE) - A general view of the Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr, southern Iran, 21 August 2010 (reissued 01 July 2019). According to Iranian media on 01 July 2019, Iran has passed the limit on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by exceeding of 300kg that was set in a landmark 2015 nuclear deal made with world powers. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it will file a report. EPA/ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH *** Local Caption *** 50783062

Iranian nuclear power plant in Bushehr, southern Iran. The levels of stockpiled uranium have also been broken (Picture: EPA)

The materials would need to be enriched to a level of 90 per cent to be made into a viable bomb.

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Experts warn higher enrichment and a growing stockpile narrow the one-year window Iran would need to have enough material for an atomic bomb, something Iran denies it wants.

Iran made the decision a year after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the deal and imposed strict sanctions which have had a knock-on effect on the Iranian economy.

Since the sanctions were imposed, exports of crude oil have dropped from about 2.5 million barrels a day to around 300,000.

In a last-minute diplomatic bid, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, by phone on Saturday, saying he is trying to find a way to resume dialogue between Iran and Western partners by July 15.

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METRO