In the midst of the Vienna talks on reviving the nuclear deal, Iran committed another grave breach of its terms. Iran’s nuclear director Ali Akbar Salehi announced on Twitter, according to Fars News, that 60 percent of uranium had been enriched Friday night. So far, the country’s new centrifuges have enriched the Natanz nuclear power plant by a maximum of 20 percent. Parliament Speaker Muhammad Qalibaf wrote on Twitter on Friday, “I am proud to announce that at 12:40 am (…) Iranian scientists have succeeded in producing uranium enriched to 60 percent.” The 2015 nuclear deal only allowed the country to produce enriched uranium up to a maximum of 3.67 percent.
US President Joe Biden described the progress from Tehran as “not helping in any way.” He said that talks about the future of the nuclear deal with Iran were continuing. It is too early to talk about its possible consequences. White House spokeswoman Jane Psaki spoke of a provocation that casts doubt on the seriousness of Tehran’s new nuclear negotiations. However, indirect talks with Iran have continued since last week. The talks were expected to be difficult, but they are still progress.
“a A very disturbing development. “
A spokesman for the European Union’s foreign affairs representative, Josep Borrell, spoke in Brussels on Friday of a “very worrying development”. He said that from the European Union’s point of view, there is no credible explanation or non-military justification for the action. A spokesman for the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna declined to comment.
With the increase to 60 percent, the country wants to increase pressure on the partners in the 2015 nuclear deal to persuade the United States to withdraw sanctions and return to the nuclear deal it withdrew from three years ago. The corresponding consultations between Iran and senior diplomats from European countries, Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China, resumed in Vienna on Thursday. The Europeans wanted to enable the understanding with Iran in a kind of shuttle diplomacy with the representatives of the United States.
On Friday, Iranian diplomats tried to downplay the concrete meaning of the move. A diplomat said 60 percent of the enriched uranium is produced “only in small quantities.” Salehi, the head of the atomic company, said nine grams of fissile material would be produced per hour. He explained that, however, they want to reduce production to five grams per hour so that they can produce uranium enriched by 20 percent again at the same time.
Reaction to a sabotage attack in Natanz
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced the move on Thursday, describing it as a response to the sabotage attack on the Natanz nuclear facility last Sunday. He blamed Israel for the act of sabotage. The president said Iran could even enrich uranium to 90 percent – thus making it suitable for nuclear weapons – but that the country has never wanted a nuclear weapons program and does not want it now. In addition, Iran is ready to return to undisputed enrichment of a maximum of 3.67 percent if the agreement is implemented by all partners and the US sanctions are lifted.
Germany, France and Great Britain were already reacting with concern to a similar announcement by Iran a few days earlier. They described this as a “dangerous development” as the manufacture of highly enriched uranium was an important step in building nuclear weapons.
Diplomatic efforts continued to save the Vienna nuclear deal. According to Iranian sources, technical talks and bilateral and multilateral meetings will be held on Friday at various levels. The European Union negotiating team showed that it was falsified in response to the APA’s request. There was nothing to add to yesterday’s tweets from the Vice President of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora.
On Thursday afternoon, Mora wrote in a photo of the meeting in a luxury hotel in Vienna that “it is good for everyone to return to Vienna.” They want to continue the talks “despite very difficult events and announcements in the past few days” and they have a common goal “that the United States will rejoin the nuclear deal and be fully implemented.”
Russia and China are on the side of Iran
It was not clear whether European countries and the US delegation, who is also in Vienna, had actually made contact. The European Union and the three European contracting parties to the nuclear deal – Great Britain, France and Germany – want to explore opportunities for understanding between Washington and Tehran in shuttle diplomacy.
The other contracting parties – Russia and China – have traditionally stood by Iran. At the beginning of the talks, China demanded the immediate and unconditional return of the United States to the nuclear deal. After the six-party full round of the nuclear deal, the Chinese negotiator in Vienna, Wang Kun, told reporters that Washington should also lift all Iran-related sanctions.
Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) said Thursday that the negotiations are subject to certain time pressures. “This could be the last diplomatic rescue attempt,” he said. “Because we really have to come to an agreement by May.” Schallenberg, who previously met the head of the Iranian delegation, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, said that the pressure on both sides was “enormous”, but he had the impression that “there is a real effort.”
The so-called JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) deal was struck in Vienna in the summer of 2015 after years of negotiations between the United Nations veto powers, the United States, Russia, China, France, Great Britain as well as Germany with Iran. In this, Tehran agrees to strictly monitor and limit its nuclear program, such as enriching uranium by up to only four percent. In return, the country should receive economic relief. With the exit of the United States, which later also imposed sanctions on all companies trading with Iran, this fragile construction collapsed. (What / dpa / Reuters)