Trump team to brief Congress on Iran; Dems seek counterpoint

US President Donald Trump greets Switzerland’s President Ueli Maurer before a meeting at the White House

Iran has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium amid tensions with the USA over Tehran's unraveling nuclear accord, two semi-official news agencies reported Monday, an announcement just after President Donald Trump warned Iran it would face its "official end" if it threatened America again.

Al Jazeera's James Bays, reporting from the United Nations headquarters in NY, said the Iranian ambassador did not mention the USA in his appeal for dialogue.

"We'll see what happens, but they've been very hostile, they've truly been the number one provocateur", Trump told reporters as he was departing for a campaign rally in Montoursville, Pennsylvania.

On Sunday, the President ramped up the pressure on Iran, claiming if the United States were to strike it would be the "end" of the Middle Eastern country. Lawmakers are warning the Trump administration it can not take the country into war without approval from Congress, and the back-to-back briefings show the wariness among Democrats, and some Republicans, over the White House's sudden policy shifts in the Middle East.

It came days after mysterious sabotage attacks on several tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and drone strikes on a Saudi crude pipeline by Yemen rebels who Riyadh claimed were acting on Iranian orders.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the rocket launch. Saudi Arabia accused Tehran of ordering the attack.

The competing closed-door sessions Tuesday, unusual and potentially polarizing, come after weeks of escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf that have raised alarms over a possible military confrontation with Iran. "We will hold Iran responsible if any such attacks are conducted by its proxy militia forces or elements of such forces, and will respond to Iran accordingly".

The US-Iranian tensions first flared up past year when the United States unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and started reinstating sanctions against Tehran.

That amount is the limit Iran can acquire under a 2015 nuclear deal, which the USA pulled out of last May, AP reported.

Trump campaigned on pulling the US from the 2015 nuclear accord, which saw Iran agree to limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

'I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons, ' he noted.

The state-run IRNA news agency quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as acknowledging that capacity had been quadrupled.

"Pompeo made the comments in a Fox News Radio interview with Guy Benson on Thursday amid the increasing tensions between the USA and Iran, and the calls to investigate Kerry, the former secretary of state under President Obama, over the alleged violations of the Logan Act for meeting with Iranian officials", reports Fox News.

IRGC Commander Hossein Salami said on May 19 that Iran does not seek war, but is not afraid of it either and U.S. President vowed on the same day that war between Washington and Tehran would result in "the official end of Iran".

Iran said this month that cap no longer applied in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the deal.

"It won't be long until we pass the 300-kg limit of low enriched uranium".

Former US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, speaking to BBC World News television, played down the uranium announcement, saying "I don't know that it's necessary to go into the panic mode yet".

There has been much talk of an Iran War in recent weeks, but the likelihood of a war, whether intentional or accidental, is relatively small for the simple reason that the leaders of Iran and the USA don't want one.

So far, Trump's persistent threats to annihilate Iran have not encouraged Tehran to sit down for talks.

On Sunday, Trump threatened Iran in a tweet, raising concerns about a potential US-Iran conflict.

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