Iran Sanctions Will Soon Increase, Trump Says, Accuses Tehran of 'Secret' Uranium Enrichment

Senior Iranian security official says Tehran will not reverse decision to increase uranium enrichment beyond limits set by accord until it achieves its 'full rights' under the deal

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Donald Trump speaks at White House in Washington, U.S., July 8, 2019.
Donald Trump speaks at White House in Washington, U.S., July 8, 2019.Credit: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

President Donald Trump accused Iran on Wednesday of secretly enriching uranium for a long time and warned that U.S. sanctions will be increased soon, as the UN nuclear watchdog held an emergency meeting on Tehran's breach of a nuclear deal. 

Trump also accused Iran of secretly enriching uranium for a long time but offered no evidence, and Iran said after the 35-nation meeting in Vienna that it had "nothing to hide." U.N. inspectors have uncovered no covert enrichment by Iran since long before its 2015 nuclear agreement deal with world powers. 

"Iran has long been secretly 'enriching,' in total violation of the terrible 150 Billion Dollar deal made by John Kerry and the Obama Administration. Remember, that deal was to expire in a short number of years. Sanctions will soon be increased, substantially!" Trump said on Twitter. 

The latest U.S.-Iranian tensions date back to last year, when Trump withdrew from the nuclear accord and restored heavy sanctions on Iran, including its oil industry, exacerbating an economic crisis that has sent the currency plummeting.

A senior Iranian security official said Wednesday that Iran will not reverse its decision to increase uranium enrichment beyond the limits set by the accord until it achieves its "full rights" under the deal.

Ali Shamkhani told a French envoy that the decision to increase enrichment is an "unchangeable strategy" and criticized European countries for their "lack of will" in providing relief from U.S. sanctions, according to the official IRNA news agency.

But the United States on Wednesday urged the signatories to the nuclear deal not to give in to Iran's demands by providing new economic incentives to get it to pull back from its recent escalation of its atomic program.

Jackie Wolcott, the U.S. ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, told a gathering of the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran's recent moves to enrich uranium beyond the deal's limits amounted to "nuclear extortion." She said Iran's "misbehavior" should "not be rewarded."

France and other countries have called on Iran to go back to complying with the nuclear deal. Emmanuel Bonne, a French presidential envoy, is in Iran this week for talks aimed at resolving the crisis.

'Nothing to hide,' Iran says

Kazim Gharib Abadi, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, told reporters following Trump's accusation that all Tehran's nuclear activities were being monitored by IAEA inspectors. 

"We have nothing to hide," he said after the IAEA meeting in Vienna, which was called at the request of Washington. 

Abadi said in a German newspaper interview published earlier in the day that Tehran intended to preserve the nuclear deal if all other signatories honoured their commitments under it. 

"Everything can be reversed within a single hour - if all of our partners in the treaty would just fulfil their obligations in the same way," he told the weekly Die Zeit.

In the deal with world powers negotiated by the Obama administration, Iran had agreed to curb its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief. It has offered to return to the agreement, but Trump has long rejected the deal, saying it was too generous to Tehran and did not address its involvement in regional conflicts.