Iran admits another breach of 2015 nuclear deal
Iran has admitted another breach of its landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after firing up uranium-enriching centrifuges at the underground Natanz plant in central Iran.
Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) confirmed the breach after it was identified by the UN body.
The terms of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) accord state that Tehran can only enrich uranium with first-generation IR-1 machines.
The IAEA found that Iran had been feeding uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas feedstock into advanced IR-2m machines, whose installation had been noted in the IAEA's last report on 2 November.
Last week, US President Donald Trump reportedly considered strikes on the Natanz site but was dissuaded by his advisors over fears of a broader regional conflict, according to a New York Times report.
In response to the reports, Iran threatened a "crushing response" to the US in the event of a strike on its facilities.
Since President Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Washington has reintroduced sanctions on Iran as part of its 'maximum pressure' campaign.
Iran has also undermined the accord since Washington's withdrawal by breaching limits set by the agreement.
Supporters of the deal, including European states, hope that incoming president-elect Joe Biden will salvage the deal as promised.
Iran has signalled that it will return to the deal if US sanctions are lifted.
"If the US implements its commitments under the UN security council resolution 2231, we will implement our commitments under the JCPoA," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said on Thursday.
"This can be done automatically and needs no negotiations. But if the US wants to rejoin the JCPoA then we will be ready to negotiate how the US can re-enter the deal."