Iran has warned that it will step up nuclear activities if the 2015 deal with the 5+1 Powers collapses because of US withdrawal and economic pressure.
Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said Wednesday that the Islamic Republic “will reach even more advanced levels” of uranium enrichment if the rest of the 5+1 (UK, France, Germany, Russia, and China) do not salvage the agreement.
Under the deal, Iran halted enrichment of 20% uranium — which potentially can be further enriched to 95% military-grade fuel — and shipped all stocks outside the country. It also sharply limited research and development of new centrifuges, and agreed to rigorous inspection of nuclear facilities.
In June, weeks after Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal, the Supreme Leader ordered the AEO to prepare for a sharp escalation of uranium enrichment. He tried to press European governments, saying that Iran cannot remain in “nuclear custody” under expanding US sanctions.
The AEOI then re-opened a production plant for uranium hexaflouride (UF6), a key component of the enrichment process.
The Rouhani Government has been pursuing European trade and investment links to buffer the effects of the US sanctions, but the European Union has struggled to provide guarantees for larger companies, some of whom have halted business with Tehran.
Last week, the Supreme Leader effectively ordered a halt to the economic discussions, with the regime proclaiming that it can pursue self-sufficiency under a “Resistance Economy”.
However, the economic position has worsened in recent days, with another sharp drop in the value of the Iranian currency.