Iran announces steps to further scale back nuclear commitments

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Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday ordered all limits on nuclear research and development to be lifted, the country’s third step in scaling down its commitments to a 2015 deal with world powers.

“I, as of now, announce the third step,” he said on state television. “The atomic energy organization (of Iran) is ordered to immediately start whatever is needed in the field of research and development, and abandon all the commitments that were in place regarding research and development.”

Iran in July abandoned two other nuclear commitments: to keep its stockpile of enriched uranium below 300-kilogrammes, and a 3.67-percent cap on the purity of its uranium stocks.

Rouhani had told his cabinet earlier Wednesday that Iran would likely announce a new step in scaling back its nuclear commitments within a day as it seeks sanctions relief from the United States.

During his speech, Rouhani said that Iran’s third nuclear step involved the development of centrifuges.

His comments came after the United States sanctioned a sprawling network of firms, ships and individuals allegedly directed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps that supplied Syria with oil worth tens of millions of dollars.

Iranian officials appeared to give a guarded welcome to a French proposal to save the atomic pact by offering Iran about $15 billion in credit lines until the end of the year if Tehran comes fully back into compliance.

On Tuesday, the United States imposed sanctions on the three Iranian space agencies, the Treasury Department said, as Washington ramps up pressure over Tehran's nuclear program.

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