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Iran says it's set to break nuclear deal rules for a second time

Tehran — Iran said Sunday it is hours away from exceeding the uranium enrichment level allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal, which the US quit last year, in a bid to pressure European parties to meet their end of the deal on oil sales and banking relations.

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"From today, we officially pass the limit of 3.67% for uranium enrichment," government spokesman Ali Rabie said in a press conference in Tehran. "Within a few hours, the process of enrichment more than 3.67% [purity] starts," Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman of Iran's atomic energy organization, said at the press conference. He didn't specify the new level.

After giving Europe 60 days to come up with a solution, and since Iran's demands for restoring its oil sales haven't been fulfilled, Iran is reducing its compliance with the nuclear deal for a second time, Abbas Araghchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister for political affairs, said.

Last week, Iran broke the terms of the nuclear deal for the first time since it was signed in 2015, by breaching the limits on uranium stockpiles. Also last week, the EU made INSTEX, a special-purpose vehicle for enabling legitimate trade with Iran despite US sanctions, operational.

INSTEX is part of the EU's efforts to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with Iran after the US withdrew its support and re-imposed sanctions on Iran. Currently, INSTEX deals with easing trade in goods that are not subject to US sanctions such as food and medicine. But Iran has said the system hasn't worked to its satisfaction.

Iranian officials have vowed to further reduce their compliance with the deal every 60 days.

US President Donald Trump has said Iran will not be allowed to build a nuclear bomb. Iran has denied it wants to build a bomb.

--Aresu Eqbali,

--Edited by Claudia Carpenter,