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UN Nuclear Watchdog Sets Special Meeting On Iran At U.S. Request

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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will hold a special session on Iran at the request of the United States.

The UN's nuclear watchdog says it will hold a special meeting next week on Iran’s nuclear program at the request of the United States after Tehran said it had breached some terms of the deal.

A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the meeting of its board of governors will be held on July 10 in Vienna.

The meeting will come at a time of high tensions between the United States and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program.

U.S. President Donald Trump in May 2018 pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear accord that Iran signed with six world powers and began reimposing sanctions that had been eased in return for curbs on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

That eventually led Iranian President Hassan Rohani to announce that his country would surpass the deal’s limit on enriched uranium stockpile, saying it would exceed the 300-kilogram restriction by June 27.

Rohani also said Iran would boost its uranium enrichment after July 7 beyond the 3.67 percent concentration limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal.

"We will put this commitment aside by whatever amount we feel like, by whatever amount is our necessity, our need. We will take this above 3.67," he said.

In an interview published on July 5, a top adviser to Iran’s supreme leader said that the country could boost its uranium enrichment to 5 percent for "peaceful" aims.

Uranium enrichment "will increase as much as needed for our peaceful activities," said Ali Akbar Velayati, international affairs adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Velayati added that for Bushehr, the country’s only nuclear power station, Iran needs “5 percent enrichment and it is a completely peaceful goal.”

Bushehr is currently running on imported fuel from Russia that is closely monitored by the IAEA.

Tehran has said the breach would be reversible "within hours" if progress is made toward providing Iran with relief from the reimposed U.S. sanctions, which have severely hit the Iranian economy.

Britain, France, and Germany -- which also signed the 2015 accord -- have urged Iran to continue to adhere to the terms of the deal and have promised to help Tehran overcome some of the financial difficulties related to U.S. sanctions if it does so.

Russia and China also signed the accord and have called on Iran to honor the terms despite the U.S. pullout.

The U.S. mission in Vienna said in a statement that Jackie Wolcott, the U.S. ambassador to international organizations, had requested the special meeting to discuss the IAEA's latest report on Iran.

In the report, the IAEA confirmed that Iran had breached the limit of 300 kilograms for stockpiles of enriched uranium as stipulated under the accord.

The statement called the news of the breach "concerning" and said that the "international community must hold Iran's regime accountable."

Iran’s mission in Vienna responded to the U.S. request for a meeting of the IAEA by saying it was a demonstration of Washington’s "isolation" and calling the United States "the prime violator” of the accord, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"The recent developments have no connection to safeguards-related issues and the mandate of the board of governors," the Iranian mission said.

Russia’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, said in a tweet that an IAEA board meeting was "not a proper place to consider" what he called "Iranian deviations from the JCPOA."

"From the viewpoint of the IAEA mandate, [breaches so far] don't constitute violation or concern," Ulyanov said.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa
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