Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Iran says it can enrich 60% uranium, restricts site inspections


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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (left) and International Atomic Energy Agency director Rafael Grossi on February 21 in Tehran.

Photo: AFP / VNA / CVN

Iran’s parliament has passed a law decreeing the restrictions if the United States does not lift its sanctions imposed on Iran by February 21. But these have remained in place.

And in the evening, Iran’s Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Kazem Gharibabadi, announced that the restrictions would come into effect. “from local midnight (20h30 GMT). The necessary instructions have been given to the nuclear installations “.

Faced with Iran’s determination, the US State Department urged that country to submit “completely” control of its nuclear activities by the IAEA, after the agreement reached between this UN organization and Tehran on Sunday February 21.

Going further in the attitude of defiance, Ayatollah Khamenei, ultimate decision maker in the main issues of the country, affirmed that Iran “could increase uranium enrichment to 60% if needed.”

Iran announced at the beginning of January that it had resumed enrichment to the tune of 20%, in what was the most spectacular of its withdrawals from the international agreement concluded in 2015 and supposed to frame the Iranian nuclear program.

These disengagements were decided from 2019 after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States in 2018 by Donald Trump from the agreement and the reinstatement of American sanctions which are suffocating the Iranian economy.

“Reversible”

Iranian government “has not abandoned its commitments and has gradually reduced some of them, which are still reversible in the event that (other countries party to the agreement) would return to their responsibilities “, said l’ayatollah Khamenei. “Westerners know we are not looking (to manufacture) nuclear weapons. “

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Said Khatibzadeh at a press conference on February 22 in Tehran.

Photo: AFP / VNA / CVN

Iran demands the lifting of US sanctions to return to its commitments. Among other things, the 2015 agreement sets the maximum threshold at which Tehran can enrich uranium at 3.67%, far from the 90% required for military use.

US President Joe Biden has promised him to join this agreement again, but on the condition that Tehran first reverts to respecting its commitments. But mistrust remains between the United States and Iran, countries which have not maintained diplomatic relations since 1980.

Despite its denials, Iran is accused of seeking to acquire atomic weapons, in particular by Israel, its sworn enemy. Concluded in Vienna between Iran and the 5 + 1 group (United States, France, Germany, Great Britain, Russia, China), the agreement provides for a gradual lifting of sanctions in exchange for ensuring that Iran does not not acquire atomic weapons.

On Sunday February 21, Iran and the IAEA announced an agreement to maintain surveillance of nuclear activities, although reduced, until talks are initiated between the countries parties to the agreement to break the deadlock.

“Necessary degree of supervision”

The law which must restrict access to certain inspections, including on suspicious military sites, “will be applied” from Tuesday February 23, confirmed the Director General of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, on his return Sunday evening February 21 in Vienna, after “intense consultations” in Tehran.

“Access will be reduced, let’s face it, but we will be able to maintain the necessary degree of monitoring and verification”, he added.

Under the terms of this “technical bilateral agreement” for a period of three months but liable to be suspended at any time, the number of on-site inspectors remains unchanged and unannounced checks will remain possible.

Among the limitations imposed by law, Iran will not provide records relating to the activities and equipment of multiple sites.

“Once everyone has done their part and fulfilled their obligations, then there will be (a cover) discussions” on a full return to the agreement, repeated Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.





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