Iran Is Enriching More Uranium Than Before 2015 Deal, Rohani Says

Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments under the nuclear deal in retaliation to Washington's withdrawal from the pact in 2018 and its reimposition of sanctions

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Centrifuge machines in Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran, November 5, 2019
Centrifuge machines in Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran, November 5, 2019Credit: ,AP
Reuters

Iran is now enriching more uranium than Tehran did before it agreed to a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said on Thursday in a televised speech.

"We are enriching more uranium before the deal was reached ... Pressure has increased on Iran but we continue to progress," Rohani said.

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Haaretz Weekly Ep. 56Credit: Haaretz

Iran has gradually scaled back its commitments under the nuclear deal in retaliation to Washington's withdrawal from the pact in 2018 and its reimposition of sanctions that have crippled the country's economy.

On Wednesday, Rohani dismissed on a proposal for a new "Trump deal" aimed at resolving the row, saying it was a "strange" offer and criticised U.S. President Donald Trump for always breaking promises.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has praised Trump as a great dealmaker, called on Tuesday for the president to replace Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with major powers with his own new pact to ensure Tehran does not get an atomic weapon.

Trump said he agreed with Johnson that a "Trump deal" should replace the Iran nuclear deal. In a televised speech, Rohani told Washington to return to the nuclear pact, which Washington abandoned in 2018.

The agreement calls for the lifting of international sanctions on Iran in return for curbs to its nuclear programme. Since quitting, Trump has reimposed sanctions on Iran that have crippled its economy.

Tehran says it wants to keep the agreement but cannot do so indefinitely if it receives none of the promised economic benefits. It has gradually taken steps to reduce its compliance, which prompted Britain, France and Germany to formally accuse it on Tuesday of violating the terms.

"This Mr. Prime Minister in London, I don't know how he thinks. He says let's put aside the nuclear deal and put the Trump plan in action," Rohani said.

"If you take the wrong step, it will be to your detriment. Pick the right path. The right path is to return to the nuclear deal."

Rohani warned Wednesday that European soldiers in the Mideast “could be in danger” after three nations challenged Tehran over breaking the limits of its nuclear deal. 

Rohani said Iran could reverse steps that exceeded restrictions in the agreement as soon as sanctions are lifted.

"What we have done is reversible. Whatever we do on the nuclear issue is under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA)," said Rohani.

In its biggest step away from the agreement yet, Iran announced on Jan. 5 it would abandon all limitations on enriching uranium set down in the pact.

Britain, France and Germany reacted by activating a dispute mechanism in the deal on Tuesday, which eventually could lead to the reimposing of UN sanctions. Iran called this step a "strategic mistake".

The European powers said they were acting to avoid a crisis over nuclear proliferation adding to an escalating confrontation in the Middle East.

Rohani criticised the Europeans for reneging on promises to protect Tehran's economy from U.S. sanctions.

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