Washington - Iran’s plan to exceed nuclear enrichment limits amount to “nuclear blackmail” and must be met with increased international pressure, a White House National Security Council spokesman said yesterday after Tehran announced it would breach uranium enrichment limits in 10 days.

“Iran’s enrichment plans are only possible because the horrible nuclear deal left the their capabilities intact,” NSC spokesman Garrett Marquis said. “President Trump has made it clear that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. Britain said if Iran breached limits agreed under the deal then London would look at “all options”.

Britain, France and Germany have previously said they will have no choice but to reimpose their own sanctions, which were lifted in return for limits on the Iranian nuclear programme. However, on Monday, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the EU would only react to any breach if the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) formally identified one, adding that she would not speculate what would happen if Tehran veers away from the terms of the deal. The IAEA declined to comment. Its chief Yukiya Amano said last week he was worried about rising tensions around Iran’s nuclear programme and he hoped they could be resolved through dialogue.

In an announcement drawing signs of Western unease, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said “We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment (of uranium) and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will bypass the 300 kg limit. Iran’s reserves are every day increasing at a more rapid rate.”