Ex-Trump official: Iran trying to 'blackmail' international community by exceeding uranium limit

A former Trump security official warned Monday that Iran exceeding its uranium stockpile limit is just another effort by the country to “blackmail” the international community for relief on sanctions. 

Fred Fleitz, a former chief of staff to national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Budget negotiators: 72 hours and counting The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Democrats inch closer to legislative deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat MORE, told Hill.TV that he wasn’t surprised by Tehran's announcement, which has since been confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying it was only a matter of time before Tehran surpassed the 300-kilogram limit set by the 2015 nuclear pact.

“The fact that they may be going to 600 kilograms is a problem, but it’s an expected problem because Iran was allowed enriched uranium while the agreement was in place,” Fleitz said. “It was only a matter of time when Iran stopped getting the benefits of this deal that it was going to do this.”

“This is simply an effort by Iran — another effort — to blackmail the international community — to stick with this terrible deal and to give it sanctions relief and it isn’t going to work,” he added.

Iran’s effort to step up production of enriched uranium, which is used to make reactor fuel and potentially nuclear bombs, comes just a year after Trump abandoned the Obama-era nuclear deal that had been signed along with five world powers and reinstated harsh economic sanctions on the country.

European co-signers of the pact, including the United Kingdom, meanwhile have been trying to work out a deal with Tehran, so that the countries can continue trading with one another without facing the impact of U.S. sanctions. But so far, Iran has said these efforts have not been enough.

Europe now has until Sunday to come up with a plan to provide relief, and if it doesn’t, Iran has vowed to continue to increase its enrichment levels.

⁠—Tess Bonn