The White House on Monday issued a warning to Iran after the country announced it surpassed limits on enriched uranium under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“Maximum pressure on the Iranian regime will continue until its leaders alter their course of action,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement. “The regime must end its nuclear ambitions and its malign behavior.”
Tehran said hours earlier it had exceeded the amount of low-enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile under the Obama-era deal, from which withdrew the U.S. last year.
The move was a bid to convince Europe, Russia and China to provide relief from U.S. sanctions, but the statement is a signal that the president is not prepared to back down and de-escalate tensions with Iran.
It marked the first time that Iran breached the terms of the deal, but the White House argued in a strangely worded phrase that “there is little doubt that even before the deal’s existence, Iran was violating its terms.”
Administration officials and Republican lawmakers have argued Tehran’s support for militant groups and involvement in Middle East conflicts constitute violations of the spirit of the pact.
Iran agreed to cap its stockpile low-enriched uranium at 300 kilograms, one of several restrictions on its nuclear activities, in exchange for lifting almost all international sanctions. Iranian officials said they are violating the terms of the deal because the U.S. withdrew and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.