Iran has begun using arrays of advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium in violation of its 2015 nuclear deal, a spokesman said Saturday, warning that Europe has little time left to offer new terms to save the accord. The comments by Behrouz Kamalvandi of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran signal a further cut into the one year experts estimate Tehran would need to have a enough material for building a nuclear weapon if it chose to pursue one. Iran maintains its program is peaceful. Iran already has breached the stockpile and enrichment level limits set by the deal, while stressing it could quickly revert back to the terms of the accord if Europe finds a way for it to sell its crude oil abroad despite crushing U.S. sanctions. However, questions likely will grow in Europe over Iran’s intentions as satellite photos obtained by The Associated Press on Saturday showed an once-detained oil tanker Tehran reportedly promised wouldn’t go to Syria was off its coast. Tensions between Iran and the U.S. have risen in recent months, with mysterious attacks on oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone, and other incidents across the wider Middle East. Iran separately seized another ship and detained 12 Filipino crewmembers, a semi-official news agency reported Saturday. “Our stockpile is quickly increasing,” Kamalvandi warned in a news conference. “We hope they will come to their senses.” The accord saw Iran limits its enrichment of uranium in exchange for sanctions
An emergency meeting with parties to Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal was constructive but there are unresolved issues and Tehran will continue to reduce its nuclear commitments if Europeans fail to salvage the pact, Iranian official Abbas Araqchi said on Sunday. “The atmosphere was constructive. Discussions were good. I cannot say that we resolved everything, I can say there are lots of commitments,” Araqchi, the senior Iranian nuclear negotiator, told reporters after the meeting in Vienna. Parties to the agreement – Britain, Germany and France plus Russia and China – met Iranian officials for talks called in response to an escalation in tensions between Iran and the West that included confrontations at sea and Tehran’s breaches of the nuclear accord. “As we have said, we will continue to reduce our commitments to the deal until Europeans secure Iran’s interests under the deal,” Araqchi said. The parties have been trying to salvage the pact since the United States withdrew from it in May 2018 and re-imposed and toughened sanctions on Iran, crippling an already weak economy. The Europeans say further breaches of the agreement by Iran would escalate confrontation at a time when Tehran and Washington are at risk of a miscalculation that could lead to war. However, their efforts to protect trade with Iran against the U.S. sanctions have yielded nothing concrete so far. Earlier this month, Tehran followed through on its threat to increase its nuclear activities in breach of the agreement. Iran has said it will withdrew from the
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani: “Our advice to Europe and the United States is to go back to logic and to the negotiating table. Go back to understanding, to respecting the law and resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. Under those conditions, all of us can abide by the nuclear deal.”
World powers will warn Iran to stick to the terms of their nuclear deal when they meet on Friday for “last chance” talks, but with Tehran feeling the pressure from punishing U.S. sanctions expectations of saving the 2015 accord are low, diplomats say. President Donald Trump last year pulled the United States out of the multinational deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs on its nuclear programme, verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Washington has since re-imposed tough sanctions on Iran, aiming to cut the Islamic Republic’s oil sales to zero to force it to negotiate a broader deal that would also cover its ballistic missile capabilities and regional influence. Senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia meet with Iranian officials in Vienna on Friday, with Tehran threatening to exceed the maximum amount of enriched uranium it is allowed under the deal, adding to fears of a military escalation in the region. “We will repeat to the Iranians that nuclear issues are not negotiable. We want them to stay in the accord, but we won’t accept them messing us around,” a senior European diplomat said. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Friday described the talks as a “last chance for the remaining parties … to gather and see how they can meet their commitments towards Iran.” An Iranian official told reporters ahead of the meeting that his country’s main demand was to sell its oil at the same levels that
The U.S. and Iran edged toward a flashpoint as Tehran announced it was breaking compliance with the accord that keeps it from making nuclear weapons and the Trump administration followed by ordering 1,000 more troops to the Middle East. The Pentagon said the deployment includes security forces and troops for additional surveillance and intelligence gathering in the region. While the number is small, it represents an escalation of U.S. military might aimed at deterring Iran and calming allies worried that transit through key shipping lanes could be in jeopardy. Tehran’s announcement earlier Monday means it could soon start to enrich uranium to just a step away from weapons-grade levels, challenging President Donald Trump’s assurances to allies that the U.S. withdrawal from the deal last year made the world a safer place. The developments are bound to inflame tensions in the Middle East and pose a test of resolve and credibility for both adversaries. Iran said it would break a limit on uranium stockpiles established by the 2015 agreement with world powers that was intended to restrict the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program in exchange for an easing of international sanctions. After Trump withdrew from the agreement, signed by his predecessor, he reinstated punishing economic sanctions, leaving the European and other partners in the accord struggling to keep Iran on board. On Monday, the U.S. administration found itself in the awkward position of demanding that Iran comply with a nuclear accord that the president derided as the worst deal in history. “We
European countries said on Thursday they wanted to preserve Iran’s nuclear deal and rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran, after Iran scaled back curbs on its nuclear programme and threatened moves that might breach the pact.
Iran announced steps on Wednesday to ease curbs on its nuclear programme, in response to new U.S. sanctions imposed after Washington abandoned the deal a year ago.
Experts say the new moves announced by Tehran so far are not likely to violate the terms of the deal immediately.
But President Hassan Rouhani said that unless world powers find a way to protect Iran’s banking and oil industries from U.S. sanctions within 60 days, Iran would start enriching uranium beyond limits allowed in the deal.
“We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the NPT,” read a statement issued jointly by the European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.
The top European diplomats said, “We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran’s compliance on the basis of Iran’s performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and the NPT (Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons). In this respect, we recall the key role of IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) monitoring and verification of the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments.”
The U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal struck between Iran and major powers is “doomed” to seriously affect peace and security in the Middle East, Iran’s atomic chief said on Monday. “The international community’s opposition to the U.S. withdrawal … does not nearly reflect the deep anger at the American unilateralism but also the concerns about the extremely difficult situation in our immediate region with all its pervasive chaos and the existing menace of terrorism,” Salehi said in his speech to the IAEA General Conference.