Updated Jul 7, 2019

Iran nuclear deal: Tehran announces new breach

The reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear power plant. Photo: IIPA via Getty Images

Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said on Sunday the country would break within hours the limit on uranium enrichment set in the 2015 nuclear deal, BBC reports.

Details: Araghchi said Iran would start enriching uranium above the 3.67% limit to provide fuel for its Bushehr power plant, according to BBC, which reported that officials said this would mean a concentration of about 5%.

"This is to protect the nuclear deal, not to nullify it. This is an opportunity for talks. And if our partners fail to use this opportunity they should not doubt our determination to leave the deal."
— Araghchi

Why it matters: Iran has already admitted breaching the deal. It said last week its stockpile of low-enriched uranium crossed 300 kilograms (661 pounds) — the maximum amount it's allowed to hold under the 2015 nuclear deal, which has been in jeopardy since the U.S. withdrew from it.

  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last week that Tehran would start enriching uranium to "any amount we want" on July 7.

The big picture: Araghchi told a news conference Iran would scale back other commitments in 60 days if there's no progress in talks with European countries on the nuclear deal, according to Al Jazeera.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday that France and Iran had agreed to explore by July 15 conditions to resume talks on the nuclear deal, per Euronews.
  • The situation between Iran and the United States remains tense. Last month, Iran shot down a U.S. drone. Trump called off retaliatory airstrikes at the last minute.

Go deeper: How Trump and Tehran came to the brink of war

This article has been updated with more details, including fresh comment from Araghchi.

Go deeper

South Korea and Italy see spikes in coronavirus cases

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting these are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the United States.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel and Lebanon, while Iran reported its sixth death from the virus. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 Friday to 433 on Saturday and Italy's case count rose from 3 to 62 by Saturday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 mins ago - Health

America's rundown roads add to farmers' struggles

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

American farmers are struggling to safely use the roads that cut through their fields; decades of neglect and lack of funding have made the routes dangerous.

The big picture: President Trump has long promised to invest billions in rural infrastructure, and his latest proposal would allocate $1 trillion for such projects. Rural America, where many of Trump's supporters live, would see a large chunk of that money.

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."