UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Iran said on Saturday it now had the capacity to enrich uranium by more than 20 percent, but even if it does not intend to do so at the moment, time is running out for saving the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
“We are beginning to lift restrictions on research and development under the agreement … This will include faster and more sophisticated centrifuges,” Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalundi told a televised news conference.
“The European parties to the agreement must know that there is not much time left and that if there is anything to be done (to save the nuclear deal), it should be done quickly.”
The pact has restricted Iran’s controversial nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions, but it has been unraveling since the United States withdrew last year and has moved to clamp down on Iran’s oil trade to force it to make wider security concessions.
Since May, Iran has been scaling back its obligations under the terms of the deal in response to US President Donald Trump’s campaign of putting maximum pressure on Tehran since the withdrawal of the deal, which included reimposing sanctions to force the Islamic Republic to return to negotiations.
Iran says its steps could be reversed if the European side finds a way to protect its vital oil exports from Washington sanctions.
The agreement limits the number of centrifuges used to enrich uranium in Iran to about 6,000, down from nearly 19,000 before 2015, and allows it to enrich uranium with first-generation machines only and to use a few more advanced centrifuges for research purposes only, but without storing enriched uranium.
* developed devices
“The devices developed by the R&D team will help increase stocks,” Kamalundi said. It happened yesterday and we were informed by the IAEA today. ”
“This includes sixth-generation centrifuges and we have started pumping gas (uranium) into them. We have also started work on a 20-series of fourth-generation centrifuges, as well as in a sixth-generation 20-series since yesterday.”
“We will soon test eighth-generation centrifuges by pumping gas into three of them,” he said.
More sophisticated centrifuges can enrich uranium at a much faster pace.
“The UN nuclear watchdog has been informed of our new nuclear steps and can still enter our nuclear sites,” Kamalundi said.
“We do not currently intend to make any changes related to IAEA inspections, and we will continue to be as transparent as ever,” he said.
But he added, “When other parties give up their commitments, they should not expect Iran to fulfill its obligations” to limit its nuclear capability under the deal.
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