Macron, Netanyahu meet to discuss Iran

Read more Iran in compliance with nuclear deal UN report

Iran's top leader said on Monday he had ordered preparations to increase uranium enrichment capacity if a nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after the USA withdrawal, and he vowed never to accept limits on Tehran's ballistic missile program.

Iran has told the United Nations nuclear watchdog that it will increase its nuclear enrichment capacity within the limits set by the 2015 agreement with world powers.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the move in a speech last night vowing to preserve the country's nuclear programme.

The three European powers are scrambling to save the deal - under which Iran curbed its nuclear program in return for a lifting of global sanctions - as they regard it as the best chance to stop Tehran developing an atomic bomb.

Shortly after Mr Khamenei's speech, French carmaker PSA announced that it was pulling out of two joint ventures to sell its cars in Iran to avoid risking USA sanctions.

Media captionWhat is the Iran nuclear deal?

The EU said that a first assessment indicated the new steps announced by Iran did not constitute a violation of the agreement. Europeans and Israel were, she said, "united by the goal that Iran must never get a nuclear weapon".

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The deal allows Iran to continue 3.67 per cent uranium enrichment, far below the roughly 90 per cent threshold of weapons-grade material.

But the European Union believes the existing Iran nuclear deal is effective and has largely curtailed the Islamic country's nuclear activities. Kamalvandi has said Iran is preparing to expand its uranium enrichment capacity. The Trump administration has said it will apply severe sanctions on Iran by the end of the year, including penalties against companies that trade with the country.

The Israeli leader said Tuesday that the Iranian plan to increase its nuclear enrichment capacity was aimed at producing nuclear weapons to be used against Israel.

Since US President Donald Trump's announcement of the American exit on May 8, European Union leaders have pledged to try to keep Iran's oil trade and investment flowing but admitted that will not be easy to do.

Supporters also fear the reimposition of USA sanctions could hit European firms that have done business with Iran since the accord was signed.

"The aim to prevent Iran from developing any kind of nuclear capacity was always the foundation of global policy on Iran", Israel's ambassador to Germany, Jeremy Issacharoff, told AFP ahead of the visit.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, yesterday began a three-tour of Europe with the aim of convincing the signoratories to back out of the accord and support his push for tighter measures on Tehran. We commit, and I commit again, that we will not let that happen, ' he said.

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