July 8, 2019 / 9:27 PM / Updated 8 hours ago
Iran makes new nuclear threats that would reverse steps in pact
Babak Dehghanpisheh, Tuqa Khalid
7 Min Read
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran threatened on Monday to restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up enrichment of uranium to 20% purity in a move away from the 2015 nuclear deal, but the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards insisted the world knows Tehran is not pursuing nuclear arms.
The threats to ramp up enrichment, made by Tehran’s nuclear agency spokesman, would go far beyond the small steps Iran has taken in the past week to nudge stocks of fissile material just beyond limits in the pact that Washington abandoned last year.
They would reverse the major achievements of the agreement, intended to block Iran from making a nuclear weapon, and raise serious questions about whether the accord is still viable.
Iran omitted important details about how far it might go to returning to the status quo before the pact, when Western experts believed it could build a bomb within months.
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But Major General Hossein Salami, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, denied Iran was pursuing a nuclear weapon.
“Why do they globally sanction us about the nuclear issue when the world knows that we are not pursuing a weapon? In reality they are sanctioning us because of knowledge,” Salami was quoted as saying by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
“Nuclear weapons have no place in Islam. Islam never approves of weapons of mass destruction,” he added.
Despite the Iranian threat to boost enrichment, the United States said its renewed sanctions against Tehran were working and warned Iranian leaders not to underestimate U.S. resolve.
“President Trump’s maximum pressure campaign against Iran is working,” White House national security adviser John Bolton told a pro-Israel group in Washington. “We’re just getting started. ... The president’s goal is to get a new deal that would be negotiated in the best interests of the United States.”
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, who spoke to the same group, added a warning: “Iran should not confuse American restraint with a lack of American resolve,” reiterating Washington’s resolve to protect U.S. personnel and citizens in the Middle East.
Nuclear diplomacy is one aspect of a wider confrontation between Washington and Tehran that has threatened to spiral into open conflict since the United States tightened sanctions from May.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation (IAEA), confirmed that Tehran had enriched uranium beyond the 2015 deal’s limit of 3.67% purity, passing 4.5%, according to news agency ISNA.
The IAEA - the U.N. nuclear watchdog - confirmed it had verified Iran’s enrichment was beyond 3.67%.
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria March 4, 2019. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) – Iran threatened on Monday to restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up enrichment of uranium to 20% purity in a move away from the 2015 nuclear deal, but the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards insisted the world knows Tehran is not pursuing nuclear arms. The threats to ramp up enrichment, made by Tehran’s […]
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