Defense Minister Amir Hatami: “This is an incorrect and wrong action, an action similar to maritime robbery”
UPDATE, 1100 GMT:
Iranian officials are pointing to the possibility of further suspension of commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, with enrichment of uranium to 20%.
Last week Iran breached the deal’s limit of 3.67% enrichment, announced that it would go up to 5% for use in a nuclear reactor. President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi also announced exceeding the limit of 300 kg (660 pounds) of 3.67% uranium, and the renewal of construction of the Arak heavy-water reactor, suspended by the 2015 agreement because plutonium by-product could be put to military use.
The spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said, “20% is not needed now, but if we want we will produce it. When we’ve put aside 3.67% enrichment we have no obstacle or problem with this action.”
He said enrichment at higher levels have been discussed with the Supreme National Security Council:
There is the 20% option and there are options even higher than that but each in its own place. Today if our country’s needs are one thing, we won’t pursue something else just to scare the other side a little more. But they know it’s an upward trend.
Under the deal with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, Germany, China, Russia, and France), Iran halted production of 20% uranium — which can be further enriched to a military grade of more than 90% — and shipped all stock outside the country.
Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami (pictured) said on Monday that Tehran will not tolerate Britain’s “threatening” seizure of an Iranian oil tanker.
In a speech on State TV, Brig. Gen. Hatami said:
These days we witnessed a threatening act from the government of England in the Strait of Gibraltar against a tanker from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
This is an incorrect and wrong action, an action similar to maritime robbery…certainly these kind of robberies will not be tolerated.
UK Royal Marines and Gibraltarian police boarded and impounded the Grace 1 supertanker, carrying up to 2 million barrels of oil, at the moth of the Mediterranean in Gibraltar’s territorial waters last Thursday. London said the ship was carrying oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions against the Assad regime, a claim denied by the Islamic Republic.
Continuing his tough talk, Hatami said Iran’s downing of a US surveillance drone last month sent the message that Tehran will defend its borders.
The US said the drone was over international waters when it was downed. The Islamic Republic maintains that the unmanned aircraft was over Iranian territorial waters, en route from the Strait of Hormuz.
The incident nearly led to a US military response on Iranian radar and air defense targets, but Donald Trump suddenly reversed his approval of the operations.
In a statement complementing Hatami’s firm line, Army chief Maj. Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi said Iran is not looking for war with any country.