A spokesman for Iran's atomic agency said Tehran would increase uranium enrichment levels "based on the country's needs".

President Rouhani at a meeting of Council of Ministers in Tehran on June 12, 2019. Rouhani on Monday warned there's a limited time to save the country's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
President Rouhani at a meeting of Council of Ministers in Tehran on June 12, 2019. Rouhani on Monday warned there's a limited time to save the country's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. (AA)

Iran will break the uranium stockpile limit set by Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers in the next 10 days, the spokesman for the country's atomic agency said Monday. Behrouz Kamalvandi warned that Iran has the need for uranium enriched up to 20 percent, just a step away from weapons-grade levels.

The announcement indicated Iran's determination to break from the landmark 2015 accord, which has steadily unravelled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the deal last year and re-imposed tough economic sanctions on Iran, sending its economy into free fall.

"The current situation is very critical and France and the other parties to the (deal) still have a very limited opportunity to play their historic role for saving the deal," Iran's President Rouhani said on Monday while meeting the new French ambassador to Tehran, Philippe Thiebaud.

"There is no doubt that the collapse of the (accord) will not be beneficial for Iran, France, the region and the world," he said.

Kamalvandi made the announcement during a press conference with local journalists at Iran's Arak heavy water facility, which was broadcast live on Iranian state television.

The development comes in the wake of suspected attacks on oil tankers last week that Washington has blamed on Iran. 

Tensions between Iran and the US have spiked in the year since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the nuclear deal.

Kamalvandi said that the country already quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium and said Tehran would increase uranium enrichment levels "based on the country's needs".

That increase could be to any level from the current 3.67 per cent, which is the limit set by the nuclear deal.

Boosting uranium purity considerably means it becomes weapons-grade material, something that worries nuclear non-proliferation experts.

Source: AP