Iran Gives Notice Of Uranium-Enrichment Intentions
Iran says it has informed the UN nuclear agency that it has launched the process of increasing its capacity to enrich uranium in case the 2015 agreement that curbed its nuclear program collapses.
Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, said on June 5 that a letter was handed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna to inform it of the decision.
But he also said Iran will continue adhering to the 2015 nuclear deal and that the country's nuclear activities will remain within the limits set by the accord.
Last month, President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal that set strict limits on Iran's uranium enrichment in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
The other signatories to the accord -- Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany -- said they remain committed to the deal. Iran for now also is honoring the agreement.
"If conditions allow, maybe tomorrow night at [the Natanz enrichment plant], we can announce the opening of the center for production of new centrifuges," Salehi said, quoted by the semiofficial Fars news agency.
This "does not mean that we will start assembling the centrifuges," he insisted.
Salehi said the move was in line with instructions from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has ordered preparations for the resumption of unlimited uranium enrichment should the nuclear deal -- known by the acronym JCPOA -- fall apart.
"If the JCPOA collapses...and if we decide to assemble new centrifuges, we will assemble new-generation...centrifuges. However, for the time being, we move within the framework of the JCPOA," Salehi said.
After Iran's announcement, French President Emmanuel Macron warned of a risk of "escalation."
Speaking at a news conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Macron said everyone involved should "stabilize the situation and not give into this escalation, which would lead to only one thing: conflict."
But Macron also said Trump was responsible for unilaterally pulling out of the JCPOA.
"When you decide to bring an end to a deal on your side, that does not encourage the other party to respect it," he said, calling this "solid common sense."
Netanyahu said he had not asked France to leave the deal because he believed the JCPOA would not survive after America's pullout.
"I didn't ask France to withdraw from the JCPOA because I think it is basically going to be dissolved by the weight of economic forces," Netanyahu said.
Earlier, Netanyahu said the Iranian plan to increase its nuclear enrichment capacity was aimed at producing nuclear weapons to be used against Israel, its archrival.
"We are not surprised [by Iran's announcement], he said in a video statement. We will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons."
Tehran insists its nuclear program is for civilian use.
The nuclear agreement allows Iran to continue 3.67 percent uranium enrichment, far below the roughly 90 percent threshold of weapons-grade.
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