Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi at a joint press conference in Tehran on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Tehran - Iran may choose to enrich uranium at a higher purity level as its next step in a new policy that’s gradually undoing the restrictions imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal.

It’s “among the options considered” as part of Iran cutting back on its commitments within the accord, official Islamic Republic News Agency reported, citing Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran.

In a separate report, Kamalvandi told state-run Iranian Students News Agency that the country reached enrichment levels of 4.5 per cent purity earlier on Monday, which meets the needs of Iran’s nuclear reactors.

Iran threatened in May to abandon some of its commitments under the multiparty deal abandoned by the US a year ago if Europe didn’t meet a July 7 deadline to relieve sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, which include penalties for buying Iranian oil.

The situation is of course concerning. Russia aims to continue dialogue and efforts on the diplomatic front. We are still supporters of the JCPOA (the nuclear deal).

- Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman

Less than a week after exceeding the cap on its stockpile of low-grade uranium, Tehran announced on Sunday that it will resume purifying uranium beyond the 3.67 per cent allowed under the agreement, without saying how much closer it would get to weapons-grade levels of 90 per cent.

This came as the German Foreign Ministry said on Monday Iran must be persuaded to stick to its commitments set by the 2015 nuclear deal. “The ball is clearly in Iran’s court. We want to preserve the deal,” the spokesman told a regular government news conference.

Russia said it was concerned about Iran’s plans and will pursue diplomatic efforts to save the pact, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Monday. “The situation is of course concerning,” Peskov told journalists. “Russia aims to continue dialogue and efforts on the diplomatic front. We are still supporters of the JCPOA (the nuclear deal).”

He said the announcement by Iran is one of the “consequences” of the United States abandoning the landmark deal.

“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,” Peskov said.

Iran on Sunday threatened to abandon further commitments under the landmark deal in 60 days.

China on Monday said “unilateral bullying” by the United States was the cause behind the escalating Iran nuclear crisis, after Tehran announced it was set to breach its uranium enrichment cap.

“The facts show that unilateral bullying has already become a worsening tumour,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a press briefing in Beijing.