Friday, February 26, 2021

Khamenei promises to raise uranium enrichment rate to 60%


Khamenei affirmed commitment to the nuclear agreement once the United States returns to it (Getty)

In a clear escalation in the face of the United States of America and the European partners in the nuclear deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei threatened, Monday evening, on the eve of his country’s move towards a new reduction of its nuclear pledges, by raising the level of uranium enrichment to high levels.

“We are determined to develop our nuclear capabilities in line with the needs of the country,” Khamenei said, in a meeting with members of the Assembly of Experts of the Leadership that is legally authorized to elect the guide, indicating in this context that “uranium enrichment will not stop at 20% and we will raise it as needed.”

Khamenei added, according to his office’s media website, that “the rate of uranium enrichment could rise to 60% in proportion to the needs.”

He stressed that “the Islamic Republic will not back down on the nuclear issue, and will continue the path vigorously in order to achieve the country’s interests and needs,” describing the American and European positions towards Iran reducing its nuclear pledges “bully and unjust.”

The Iranian guide explained that “there has been an agreement for several years, and if they implement it, we will also implement it,” referring to the nuclear deal, adding that “the issue of nuclear weapons is only an excuse for the Westerners, as they even oppose our possession of conventional weapons because they want to rob Iran of the elements of power.”

Khamenei added, “Westerners know very well that we do not seek nuclear weapons,” saying that this is “forbidden by Sharia.”

He described the Prime Minister of the Israeli occupation, Benjamin Netanyahu, as a “clown”, stressing that if Iran wanted to acquire nuclear weapons, “whoever is greater than him will not be able to stop us.”

Khamenei called on the Iranian government to strictly implement the “strategic procedure for lifting sanctions” law, indicating that, tomorrow, Tuesday, another clause of the law will be implemented that stipulates taking nuclear steps if the sanctions are not lifted. The Iranian guide intends to suspend the additional protocol that governs the UN oversight of the Iranian nuclear program.

In this context, Iran’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, Kazem Gharibabadi, confirmed tonight that his country will stop all “supplementary inspections” by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Iranian facilities as of 12:00 pm.

He added that from this hour onwards, “there will be no obligations outside the safeguards agreement, and the necessary orders have been issued in this regard to the nuclear facilities,” according to Iranian television.

After sharp differences arose between the government and parliament in Iran during the past two days, against the background of the government signing an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency, yesterday, Sunday, during the visit of the Agency’s director, Rafael Grossi, to Tehran, Khamenei called on the two Iranian institutions to resolve the differences through cooperation between them and not to tighten them.

The Iranian parliament considered that the government’s agreement with the international agency violates the law because it allows the continuation of verification and control activities, but the government says that the agreement does not contradict the law approved by the parliament, stressing that it will stop, on Tuesday, the implementation of the additional protocol.

Khamenei’s threat to raise the level of uranium enrichment to 60 percent, after Iran raised it to 20 percent last month.

In 2019, Iran had broken the 3.67% limit allowed in the 2015 nuclear agreement to enrich uranium, and raised it to 4.5% before increasing it last month to 20%.

Iran has taken five nuclear steps during the past two years to reduce its nuclear pledges, in response to the repercussions of the US sanctions imposed on Tehran since Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018, and the European “procrastination” in standing up to these sanctions.

After the five steps that ended all the “operational restrictions” imposed on the Iranian nuclear program, Tehran began to dramatically escalate its steps with the victory of the new US President, Joe Biden, during the elections last November, according to the “strategic procedure for lifting sanctions” law approved by Parliament. Iran during last December.

According to this law, Iran is scheduled to suspend, starting from tomorrow, Tuesday, the additional protocol. The law provides for further nuclear steps to be taken in the coming months if not all sanctions are lifted.





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