Iran is enriching uranium to a high degree
Iran said on Saturday it had begun operating sophisticated centrifuges that would increase its stockpile of enriched uranium, a further reduction of its obligations under the nuclear deal, a matter of concern to the international community.
At the same time, Tehran stressed that it would continue to allow UN inspectors to disclose its nuclear program, ahead of a visit to Iran by IAEA Director General Cornell Verota.
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrooz Kamalundi detailed on Saturday measures for the new phase of the plan to reduce pledges made by Iran under the international agreement on its nuclear file reached in 2015 in Vienna.
This is the third stage of the strategy adopted by Iran since May in response to the US decision to withdraw unilaterally from the agreement.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on Wednesday the start of the third phase of the plan, issuing instructions to abandon all restrictions on research and development in the nuclear field.
Kamalundi told reporters that 20 IR-4 centrifuges and 20 IR-6 centrifuges had been operated on Friday, while the deal allows Iran to enrich uranium only by first-generation machines. 1 “.
The fourth and sixth generation centrifuges “will contribute to increasing stockpiles (of enriched uranium) as well as their use for research and development,” the spokesman said.
Kamalundi pointed out that “the capacity of these devices many times more than the energy” of centrifuges old.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper from Paris commented on the Iranian decision, announcing at a joint press conference with French Defense Minister Florence Barley that “they are violating the nuclear agreement at all.
“We can only emphasize our goal: to bring Iran back into compliance with the Vienna agreement. We will continue to push in this direction,” Barley said.
In London, the British Foreign Office said that the Iranian decision “very disappointing at a time we are working with our European and international partners to defuse the crisis with Iran.”
But Kamalundi, in turn, stressed Iran’s adherence to the same level of “transparency” about its activities.
Under the Vienna agreement, Iran agreed to submit to the most stringent monitoring regime applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) so far, which is a key element of the agreement between Iran and the six countries (the United States, China, France, Britain, Russia and Germany).
“With regard to IAEA control and access (to facilities),” Kamalundi said, “the commitments will be honored as before.”
The new devices are supposed to accelerate the production of enriched uranium and increase Iran’s stockpile, which has exceeded the 300 kg limit set in the Vienna agreement since July.
The deal is in danger of collapsing since Trump withdrew in May 2018.
Following its withdrawal, Washington gradually reimposed economic sanctions on Tehran, pursuant to a policy of “maximum pressure” aimed at forcing Tehran to renegotiate an agreement that, according to Trump, offers better guarantees.
US sanctions deprive Iran of reaping the economic benefits expected from the agreement, which provided for the lifting of some of the international sanctions that have been isolating Iran for years, in return for significantly reducing its nuclear program to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons.
Tehran, which has consistently denied pursuing a nuclear bomb, intends to reduce its obligations to get other parties to the deal to help it bypass US sanctions, particularly those that deny it oil exports.
Since May, Tehran has increased its stockpile of enriched uranium to above the limit set in the agreement and has resumed enrichment by 4.5 percent, higher than its maximum limit (3.77 percent) but well below the threshold for military uses.
Kamalundi said on Saturday that Iran does not intend at present to enrich by more than 4.5%. “We do not currently need to enrich by 20%, and if we feel this need at one time, we will start to increase our stockpile (of enriched uranium) by 4.5% “.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Friday that it was “unacceptable” for Iran to back down from further commitments, while the European Union called on Tehran on Wednesday to “reverse” its decision.
The three European countries involved in the agreement, led by France, are redoubling diplomatic efforts to save the deal from total collapse and reduce tensions between Iran and the United States, which remains at its height after it came to the brink of an armed confrontation in June.
But the project, which has been discussed in recent days to give Iran a 13.5 billion euro line of credit to allow it to re-implement the deal in full, clashes with Washington’s refusal to ease sanctions.
Cornell Verota will arrive in Tehran on Saturday evening, where he will meet on Sunday with the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.