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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Iran’s nuclear enrichment ‘against the spirit of Vienna talks’

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Iran announced a decision to enrich uranium at 60% purity following the attack on the Natanz nuclear facility.

European powers involved in the 2015 nuclear deal warned that Iran’s latest decision to pump its uranium enrichment is “contrary to the spirit” of the ongoing Vienna talks, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

“Iran’s announcements are particularly regrettable given they come at a time when all JCPoA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] participants and the United States have started substantive discussions, with the objective of finding a rapid diplomatic solution to revitalise and restore the JCPOA,” said Britain, France and Germany in a joint statement.

It came after Tehran announced a decision to enrich uranium at 60% purity following attack on its main nuclear enrichment site in Natanz, pointing the blame towards Israel due to its staunch opposition to reviving the deal.

“If the Zionists conspire against our nation, we will respond. This [60% uranium enrichment] is the first step,” Rouhani told a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, vowing to take revenge for the Sunday attack.

Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to international organisations in Vienna, also took aim at the alleged Israeli involvement by writing a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s [IAEA] Director-General Rafael Grossi, describing the attack as an act of “nuclear terrorism.”

“Such deliberate targeting of a highly sensitive safeguarded nuclear facility with high risk of potential release of radioactive material constitute irresponsible criminal nuclear terrorism,” Gharibabadi said, noting that Iran’s response prevented a potential human and environmental catastrophe.

“[The] Israeli regime does not recognise any limits in its inhuman activities and is not duty bound to any international rules and regulations,” he said.

Responding to the European countries’ concern, Rouhani also stated that the uranium enrichment will not “pave the way for the production of atomic bombs”.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials said that the enriched uranium is set to be used to produce molybdenum to manufacture radiopharmaceuticals.

Read also: Rouhani warns of Israel’s regional military presence in talks with Qatar’s Amir

Ongoing Vienna meetings with all members of the deal are expected to reconvene on Thursday instead of Wednesday due to one of the European diplomat testing positive for Covid-19. It will also be the first meeting since the attack.

“The meeting of the Joint Commission of JCPOA is postponed for one day. It will take place in Vienna on April 15 in physical format. No doubt that in addition to previous issues the Commission will address the latest steps of Iran in the nuclear field, including 60% enrichment,” said Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s representative at the talks.

The indirect talks between the US and Iran kicked off on April 6th in Vienna with aims to revive the JCPOA after former US President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018.

The US said it witnessed “signs of Iranian seriousness” at the beginning of the meetings, with Washington and Tehran agreeing to form two working groups in order to ensure the compliance of both sides in the accord—one to oversee the lifting of sanctions on Iran and another to monitor its limitation of nuclear activity.

Since assuming presidency, Joe Biden has expressed his keenness on reviving the deal, which had initially come into effect during his time as vice president to President Barack Obama in 2015.


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