Iran Says It Will Boost Uranium Enrichment If Europe Can’t Preserve Nuclear Deal

Nazanin Tabatabaee Yazdi/TIMA via REUTERS

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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Iran has put in place a plan to immediately increase its uranium enrichment capacity should European countries be unable to preserve the economic benefits of the Iran nuclear deal, the country’s top nuclear official said Tuesday.

Ali Akbar Salehi, a regime vice president and head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, told state television that Tehran had already completed a new centrifuge assembly at its Natanz nuclear site.

“If conditions allow, maybe tomorrow night at Natanz, we can announce the opening of the center for production of new centrifuges,” he said, according to Agence France Presse.

The move is a first step towards boosting Iran’s nuclear enrichment capacity, but “does not mean that we will start assembling the centrifuges,” Salehi added.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, which traded international sanctions relief for limits on Iran’s nuclear program, Tehran agreed to stop enriching uranium at the 20 percent level that would allow for the rapid development of a nuclear weapon. But the regime is allowed to enrich uranium at a 5 percent level, and it can build parts for centrifuges as long as it does not assemble them within 10 years.

Tuesday’s announcement comes as Iran works with Britain, France and Germany to preserve the framework of the nuclear deal after the U.S. withdrew from it in May. The EU has said it will protect its companies from secondary U.S. sanctions against overseas firms that continue to do business in Iran, but many large European firms have already begun to wind down their operations there. (RELATED: Europe Seeks To Shield Companies From US Sanctions)

In a speech Monday, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the Europeans that Tehran would seek to revive its nuclear program if it could not continue to reap the economic benefits of sanctions relief.

“The Europeans expect the Iranian nation to tolerate and grapple with the sanctions, to give up their nuclear activities, which is an absolute requirement for the future of the country, and also to continue with the restrictions that have been imposed on them,” he said, according to the New York Times. “I would tell these governments that this bad dream will not come true.”

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