Iran says it can enrich 60% uranium, restricts site inspections
Iranian number one Ali Khamenei warned on Monday that his country could enrich uranium to 60% if needed, a new gesture of defiance towards the West hours before the start of Iran’s restrictions on inspections of its nuclear sites .
The Iranian parliament has passed a law decreeing these restrictions if the United States does not lift its sanctions imposed on Iran on 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 (8:30 p.m. GMT). The necessary instructions we were given to nuclear facilities “.
Faced with Iran’s determination, the US State Department urged this country to submit “completely” to the control of its nuclear activities by the IAEA, after the agreement reached between this UN organization and Tehran Sunday.
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 necessary”.
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” –
The 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) return to their responsibilities,” Ayatollah said. Khamenei. “Westerners know very well that we are not looking (to build) nuclear weapons.”
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, 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 resolve the impasse.
– “Necessary degree of supervision” –
The law which should restrict access to certain inspections, including on suspicious military sites, “will be applied” from Tuesday, confirmed IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi on his return to Vienna on Sunday evening. , 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 three-month “technical bilateral agreement” which may 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 resumption) of discussions” on a full return to the agreement, repeated Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
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