Iran says it will en­rich ura­nium ‘at any level’

Tehran re­duces com­mit­ment to nuclear pack un­til US eases sanc­tions

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

Iran said on Sun­day it is fully pre­pared to en­rich ura­nium at any level and with any amount, in fur­ther de­fi­ance of US ef­forts to squeeze the coun­try with sanc­tions and force it to rene­go­ti­ate a 2015 nuclear deal with world pow­ers.

In a news con­fer­ence broad­cast live, se­nior Ira­nian of­fi­cials said Tehran would keep re­duc­ing its com­mit­ments ev­ery 60 days un­less sig­na­to­ries of the pact moved to pro­tect it from US sanc­tions.

“In a few hours the tech­ni­cal process will come to an end and the en­rich­ment be­yond 3.67 per­cent will be­gin,” said Behrouz Ka­mal­vandi, the spokesman for Iran’s Atomic En­ergy Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“And to­mor­row early in the morn­ing, when the IAEA (UN nuclear watch­dog) takes the sam­ple we would have gone be­yond 3.67 per­cent.”

Un­der the pact, Iran can en­rich ura­nium to 3.67 per­cent fis­sile ma­te­rial, well be­low the 20 per­cent it was reach­ing be­fore the deal and the roughly 90 per­cent suit­able for a nuclear weapon.

Ka­mal­vandi said Iran would en­rich ura­nium for use in fu­elling its Bushehr power plant, to the level of 5 per­cent, con­firm­ing what Reuters re­ported on Satur­day.

“We are fully pre­pared to en­rich ura­nium at any level and with any amount,” he said.

Iran shows no sign of cav­ing in to pres­sure from US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in a con­fronta­tion that has taken on a mil­i­tary di­men­sion, with Wash­ing­ton blam­ing Tehran for at­tacks on oil tankers, and Iran shoot­ing down a US drone, prompt­ing aborted US air strikes.

Long-tense re­la­tions be­tween Tehran and Wash­ing­ton took a turn for the worse in May 2018 when Trump pulled out of the 2015 nuclear deal reached be­fore he took of­fice, and reim­posed sanc­tions.

Trump ar­gues that the deal is too weak be­cause some of its terms are not per­ma­nent, and be­cause it does not cover non-nuclear is­sues such as Iran’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­gramme and re­gional as­pi­ra­tions.

Iran’s an­nounce­ment chal­leng­ing Wash­ing­ton is a test of Euro­pean di­plo­macy. The Eu­ro­peans, who op­posed last year’s de­ci­sion by Trump to aban­don the agree­ment, had pleaded withi­ran to keep within its pa­ram­e­ters.

Tehran has ex­pressed frus­tra­tion over what it says is the fail­ure of Euro­pean par­ties to the agree­ment to sal­vage the pact by pro­tect­ing Iran’s eco­nomic in­ter­ests from US sanc­tions.

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