Iran has threatened to return to its level of uranium enrichment before the 2015 nuclear deal with the 5+1 Powers (US, UK, France, China, Germany, and Russia).
Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization, followed up President Hassan Rouhani’s announcement on Tuesday that Iran is injecting gas into 1,044 centrifuges, including advanced IR-4 and IR-6 models.
With the new machines, which have been installed after taking the third step [to reduce Iran’s commitments under the nuclear deal], 2,600 SWU (separative work units) have been added to the country’s enrichment capacity.
He asserted that, with the installation of more centrifuge cascades at both the Natanz and Fordow complexes, Iran would reach 9,500 SWU, “which is the level we held before singing the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]”.
The spokesman did not specifically cite the production of 20% enriched uranium, which Iran pursued before the 2015 agreement. The 20% uranium can potentially be enriched further to the 90% needed for a military nuclear program.
Since late June, the Rouhani Government has exceeded the deal’s limit on stocks of 3.67% enriched uranium, raised enrichment to 4.5%, and installed the advanced centrifuges. Rouhani said on Tuesday that Iran would return to its commitments if other parties did so — an implicit reference to Tehran’s insistence on economic links to bypass comprehensive American sanctions, imposed last November after Donald Trump withdrew the Americans from the deal.
In February, the European Union launched a mechanism, INSTEX, to bypass US sanctions. But Tehran rejected the link because of “humiliating conditions” such as criticism of the Iran’s missile program, its activities in the Middle East, and its alleged involvement in assassination and bomb plots in Europe.
On Sunday, the Supreme Leader ruled out any negotiations with the Trump Administration and belittled the efforts by French President Emmanuel Macron at mediation between Iran and the US.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called for “serious steps” over Tehran’s escalation of uranium enrichment:
Iran’s expansion of proliferation-sensitive activities raises concerns that Iran is positioning itself to have the option of a rapid nuclear breakout.
It is now time for all nations to reject this regime’s nuclear extortion and take serious steps to increase pressure. Iran’s continued and numerous nuclear provocations demand such action.