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Iran’s 20% enrichment a message to Biden: Ex-British envoy

Britain’s former representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Tuesday that Iran has started ramping up the uranium enrichment to send a diplomatic message to the Biden administration.

Peter Jenkins told IRNA in an exclusive interview that Iran’s increase of uranium enrichment up to 20% is a diplomatic message to the upcoming US administration that they (the upcoming American officials) should stop dragging their feet and making the lifting of sanctions contingent on outstanding issues.

The former British diplomat underlined, “I think that this diplomatic message is intended for the incoming administration of President-elect Biden and that it reads roughly as follows: Don't drag your feet. Don't link JCPOA’s revival to other US/Iranian points of dispute. Make re-joining the JCPOA a priority. Return to compliance with US’s JCPOA sanctions-lifting commitments. The sooner the US is in full compliance with its JCPOA commitments, the sooner Iran will also be in full compliance and enrichment to 20% will cease."

Jenkins also pointed to the existing opportunity to pave the way for reviving the nuclear deal, adding, “Foreign Minister Zarif has made plain that this move is fully reversible if the US re-joins the JCPOA. In light of this, it seems reasonable to interpret the move as a diplomatic message and not as a preliminary to an Iranian dash to acquiring enough weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear device a significant quantity.”

Jenkins, however, repeated a claim made by the European Union, saying, “Iran’s resumption of 20% enrichment, paused in 2013, will be a cause for concern in the Western capitals, especially if more efficient centrifuges are being used than those that were in use at the Fordow facility prior to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).”

Ali Rabiei, Iranian government spokesman, said that the European officials should think about their own commitments left on the ground and stop expressing concern about Iran’s moves.

The Islamic Republic of Iran has resumed enriching uranium up to 20 percent purity at Martyr Alimohammadi Enrichment Complex (Fordow) in line with the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, which has been already approved by the Parliament (Majlis).

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said in a televised speech late on Monday that the 20% enrichment is underway in 2 cascades dedicated to this end.

The move has been carried out in line with preserving the rights of the Iranian people, Kamalvandi noted, adding that Iran already produced 20% enriched uranium in 2011; so, the current level of enrichment is not new.

FM Zarif wrote on his Twitter account, “We resumed 20% enrichment, as legislated by our Parliament. IAEA has been duly notified. Our remedial action conforms fully with Para 36 of JCPOA, after years of non-compliance by several other JCPOA participants.”

Two years after the US unilaterally withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and the European signatories to the agreement dragged their feet to fulfil their obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran took steps to reduce its obligations under the IAEA supervision and has repeatedly said that if the United States returns to the JCPOA and other parties fulfil their obligations, Iran will reverse the rolling back of its commitments.

Source: Islamic Republic News Agency - IRNA

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