Iran responds to US by boosting uranium enrichment capacity

Iran responds to US by boosting uranium enrichment capacity

Iran will inform the U.N. nuclear watchdog in Vienna today over its start of a process to increase the country’s uranium enrichment capacity, Iran’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said.

Kamalvandi said that Iran will announce in a letter that will be handed over to the IAEA that the process of increasing the capacity to produce UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) will start on June 5.

The spokesman said Iran had the capacity to accelerate production of centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium, ISNA reported.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he had ordered preparations to increase uranium enrichment capacity if a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after the U.S. withdrawal from it last month.

Under the agreement with the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China, Iran strictly limited uranium enrichment capacity to satisfy the powers that it could not be used to develop atomic bombs. In exchange, Iran received relief from sanctions, most of which were rescinded in January 2016.

The deputy head of the Council of the Russian Diplomats Association, Andrey Baklanov, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, noted that Iran's return to uranium enrichment as a response to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal will only unbalance the situation. "We can raise the question already now: Is it possible to conclude any agreements in the current world situation, taking into account the behavior of the US? Where's the sense in many months of drafting an international document and signing it if one can easily come out of it unilaterally? A comprehensive plan was developed on the Iranian nuclear deal with five very accurately verified technical applications, where everything is interconnected, so the exit of one of one participant actually destroys the whole system of this agreement," he pointed out.

In fact, the US withdrawal from the deal has started to destroy it. "After the US president said that his country is withdrawing from the deal, other members also received the moral right to think that it was dissolved. Until recently said that they should try to preserve the spirit of this agreement and overcome the trend of destruction of balance that was created through the development of this document. If Iran responds to the Americans in this way, this will further exacerbate the already difficult situation in terms of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons," Andrey Baklanov emphasized.

Senior research fellow of the Institute for Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Vladimir Sazhin, drew attention to the inverse relationship between the preservation of the nuclear deal and Iran's behavior. "For almost three years Iran scrupulously met all the requirements of the IAEA and the JCPOA, no complaint has been received. Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the nuclear agreement contributed to the possible collapse of the JCPOA - and Iran decided to give a similar response to the the United States, on the one hand, and warn Europe, on the other hand. The fate of the JCPOA hangs in the balance now, but there's hope, since the US sanctions will not be imposed until August 6, and the main sanctions - until the autumn, there is still time to preserve the JCPOA in some form," he said.

"Now everything depends on the UK, Germany and France, the co-authors of the JCPOA who oppose Trump's decision. We don't know whether they will succeed in maintaining their business in Iran. If somehow they succeed, even partially, the JCPOA will exist in some new forms, since the other participants - Russia and China - fully support the JCPOA. I think Iran has made a kind of preventive step, since even increasing the production of low-enriched uranium does not violate the JCPOA. Iran also think about increasing the number of operating centrifuges, they can have about 6 thousand centrifuges in accordance with the JCPOA, but they have less number. Therefore, there is no clear violation from Iran," Vladimir Sazhin stressed.