Iran threatens ‘industrial scale’ uranium enrichment

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Iran threatens ‘industrial scale’ uranium enrichment while trying to save deal

FM sets out on diplomatic tour in bid to salvage 2015 nuke accord, but nation’s atomic agency ordered to prepare for operations ‘without restrictions’

Iran Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Khonsari talks with Belgian Foreign minister before their meeting at the Palais Egmont in Brussels on January 11, 2018. (AFP/John Thys)

Iran Foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif Khonsari talks with Belgian Foreign minister before their meeting at the Palais Egmont in Brussels on January 11, 2018. (AFP/John Thys)

Iran threatened Friday to start uranium enrichment on an “industrial scale” in response to the US exit from the nuclear deal, while simultaneously seeking to salvage the 2015 nuclear accord through negotiations with European nations.

A statement issued by the government Friday said it had tasked the president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran with “taking all necessary steps in preparation for Iran to pursue industrial-scale enrichment without any restrictions, using the results of the latest research and development of Iran’s brave nuclear scientists.”

At the same time, the statement said the other parties to the agreement — especially Britain, France and Germany — must safeguard the accord, implement their commitments, and “proceed from giving pledges to taking practical action without any preconditions.”

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will embark on a diplomatic tour to try to salvage the accord, and is seeking “required guarantees” from the five other parties to the agreement as well as Iran’s other economic parties. His spokesman said Zarif will leave late Saturday for visits to Beijing, Moscow and Brussels for meetings with all five of the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Zarif will hold high-pressure talks with the other parties to the deal, first in Beijing and Moscow, and then with his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany in Brussels on Tuesday.

All five have condemned Trump’s move to walk out of the deal and reimpose crippling sanctions, but European companies in particular will be highly vulnerable to economic pressure from Washington.

Iran’s official line is that the Islamic Republic is not interested and has never pursued nuclear offensive capabilities. The enrichment of uranium is a requirement for producing nuclear weapons, though lower level enrichment is used for civilian nuclear power and also has medicinal applications.

Israel in late April said it had obtained tens of thousands of secret Iranian documents which proved the existence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program before the nuclear accord was signed. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “Iran lied” to the world.

Thousands of Iranians on Friday protested against Trump’s decision to leave the accord that offered Tehran relief from most US and international sanctions in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.

Iranians set fire to a makeshift US flag during a demonstration after Friday prayer in the capital Tehran on May 11, 2018. (AFP)

Iranian state TV aired footage of protests against the US and Israel at rallies in Tehran and elsewhere after Friday prayers. Thousands marched in the protests, carrying anti-American and anti-Israeli banners and posters. The demonstrators mocked the US president by chanting, “Mr. Trump you cannot do a damn thing,” and, “We fight. We die. We don’t surrender,” Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, France on Friday urged Europeans to stand up to Trump over the nuclear deal and not act as “vassals,” as the EU scrambled to find ways to save the accord and the billions of dollars in trade it unleashed.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Europe-1 radio that Europe should not accept that the US is the “world’s economic policeman.”

“Do we want to be vassals who obey decisions taken by the United States while clinging to the hem of their trousers?” Le Maire asked. “Or do we want to say we have our economic interests, we consider we will continue to do trade with Iran?”

European governments tried for months to persuade Trump to stick with the deal but failed, and now fear it will raise the risk of conflict in the region. Aside from the mounting military tensions between Iran and Israel, oil prices are rising on the uncertainty.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke Friday and underlined their aim of preserving the deal and peace in the Mideast. And European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini insisted that it’s not up to the US to determine the deal’s future anyway.

“This deal is not a bilateral treaty. It’s a UN Security Council Resolution and it belongs to the entire world,” said Mogherini, who will chair talks Tuesday with the British, French, German and Iranian foreign ministers in Brussels.

Merkel said the US decision to withdraw from the deal was a serious blow, and that it would be difficult to keep the deal alive, given that a “huge economic power has left.

“We hope we can, but there are a lot of things playing a role in this,” she said. “We will have to discuss that with Iran.”

READ MORE:

Iran Admits To Them Not Adhering To ‘Nuclear Deal’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

(IF IRAN IS IN A BETTER POSITION RIGHT NOW IN REGARD TO URANIUM ENRICHMENT WHILE UNDER THE ‘NUCLEAR DEAL’ THEN IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THEY HAVE BEEN IN VIOLATION OF THAT DEAL FOR SOME TIME NOW)

Tehran warns it can enrich uranium to higher levels than before nuclear deal

Head of Iran’s atomic agency says he hopes ‘Trump comes to his senses’ and does not quit accord

Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi talks at a conference on international cooperation for enhancing nuclear safety, security, safeguards and non-profileration, at the Lincei Academy, in Rome, October 10, 2017. (AP/Gregorio Borgia)

Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi talks at a conference on international cooperation for enhancing nuclear safety, security, safeguards and non-profileration, at the Lincei Academy, in Rome, October 10, 2017. (AP/Gregorio Borgia)

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization warned Monday that Tehran is technically able to enrich uranium to a higher level than it could before it signed a nuclear deal with six world powers in 2015.

Directing his comments at US President Donald Trump, who is considering scrapping what he calls a terribly flawed agreement in the coming days, Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by Iranian state TV as saying, “Iran is not bluffing … Technically, we are fully prepared to enrich uranium higher than we used to produce before the deal was reached… I hope Trump comes to his senses and stays in the deal.”

Salehi made his comments hours before Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was slated to address Israel and the watching world on Monday evening in remarks relating to Iranian nuclear activities.

According to Israel’s Hadashot news and Channel 10 news, Netanyahu will reveal intelligence information, based on a large cache of documents recently obtained by Israel, which he believes proves Iran has duped the world regarding the state of its nuclear program.

A satellite image of Iran's Fordo uranium enrichment facility (photo credit: AP/DigitalGlobe)

A satellite image of Iran’s Fordo uranium enrichment facility. (AP/DigitalGlobe)

Trump has given Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia until May 12 to fix what he sees as the main shortfalls in the deal.

So far, all these countries have said they will stand by the original deal and Tehran has threatened grave consequences if it is cancelled.

Iran stopped producing 20 percent enriched uranium when it signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015 in return for the lifting of sanctions against Tehran.

To make a nuclear bomb, uranium needs to be enriched to 80% to 90% purity.

READ MORE:

Iran Warns It Only Needs 5 Days To Have ‘The Bomb’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s atomic chief warned Tuesday the Islamic Republic needs only five days to ramp up its uranium enrichment to 20 percent, a level at which the material could be used for a nuclear weapon.

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The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi to Iranian state television come as US President Donald Trump repeatedly has threatened to renegotiate or walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Salehi’s warning, along with recent comments by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, show Iran is willing to push back against Trump while still acknowledging they want to keep the deal, which lifted crippling economic sanctions on the country.

“If there is a plan for a reaction and a challenge, we will definitely surprise them,” said Salehi, who also serves as one of Rouhani’s vice presidents. “If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 percent-enrichment in at most five days.”

He added: “Definitely, we are not interested in such a thing happening. We have not achieved the deal easily to let it go easily. We are committed to the deal and we are loyal to it.”

Iran gave up the majority of its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium as part of the nuclear deal it struck with world powers, including Trump’s predecessor, president Barack Obama. The accord, which lifted sanctions on Iran, currently caps the Islamic Republic uranium enrichment at 5 percent.

File photo of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in 2008. (photo credit: AP/Iranian President's office, File)

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visiting the uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in 2008. (photo credit: AP/Iranian President’s office, File)

While Iran long has maintained its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, uranium enriched to 20 percent and above can be used in nuclear bombs. Iran processed its stockpile of near 20 percent uranium into a lower enrichment, turned some into fuel plates to power a research reactor and shipped the rest to Russia as part of the deal.

The Obama administration and most independent experts said at the time of the deal that Iran would need at least a year after abandoning the deal to have enough nuclear material to build a bomb. Before the deal was struck, they said the timeframe for Iran to “break out” toward a bomb was a couple of months.

While the economic benefits of the deal have yet to reach the average Iranian, airlines in the country have signed deals for billions of dollars of aircraft from Airbus and Boeing. Car manufacturers and others have swept into the Iranian market as well as the country has boosted its oil sales. Abandoning the deal would put those economic gains in jeopardy.

Rouhani, a moderate cleric within Iran’s theocratically overseen government, warned last week that it could ramp up its nuclear program and quickly achieve a more advanced level if the US continues “threats and sanctions” against his country.

Rouhani’s comments were sparked by Trump signing a sanctions bill imposing mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them. The US legislation also applies terrorism sanctions to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and enforces an existing arms embargo.

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