Iran begins injecting uranium gas into advanced centrifuges 

September 7, 2019

TEHRAN – The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has begun injecting uranium gas into advanced centrifuges, nuclear spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi announced in a press conference on Saturday.

The action falls in line with Tehran’s bi-monthly approach to reduce its nuclear commitments in response to the United States’ withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, the return of the sanctions, and a failure by the remaining parties, especially Europeans, to shield Iran from sanctions. 

The move to partially downscale commitment to the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), began on May 8, exactly one year after the Trump administration abandoned the UN-endorsed agreement.

On that date, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) said Tehran’s “strategic patience” is over and gave Europeans a 60-day deadline to protect Iran from sanctions or Iran will take the next step. 

So far, Iran has taken three steps to reduce its commitments: increasing its stockpile of nuclear fuel beyond the 300 kilograms; refining nuclear fuel from 3.67 percent to 4.5; and the latest one which is injecting uranium gas into IR-6 centrifuges. 

As a third step in limiting commitments, Kamalvandi said, the AEOI activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges.

Senior Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, have stated unequivocally that if the European side fulfills its commitments under the accord Iran will immediately reverse its decision even without the United States. Kamalvandi also reiterated this point on Saturday.

"We have started lifting limitations on our research and development imposed by the deal ... it will include development of more rapid and advanced centrifuges ... all these steps are reversible if the other side fulfills its promises," Kamalvandi stated, according to Press TV. 

President Rouhani announced on Thursday that Iran will remove limits on nuclear research and development (R&D) as Europe failed the second 60-day deadline, which fell on September 6, to fulfill its obligations. However, Rouhani said Iran will continue diplomacy with Europe to save the JCPOA from a total collapse.

"The centrifuge machines, as they are engaged in research and development, will help with increasing the (uranium) stockpile," Kamalvandi added.

"The capacity of these machines is many times more than the previous machines. This started as of yesterday (Friday)." 

Kamalvandi said the International Atomic Energy Agency has been informed about Iran's new nuclear steps which it will continue to monitor.

"Regarding the monitoring and accesses of the Agency... so that everything is clear (Iran's) commitments regarding transparency will be followed as before," he said.

Zarif wrote a letter to European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Thursday informing her of Iran’s new step to reduce its nuclear commitments in response to the other side’s failure to protect Iran from biting sanctions.

Under the nuclear accord reached between Iran and the 5+1 nations - the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany - in July 2015, Iran agreed to put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for termination of economic and financial sanctions. 

However, Trump called the Obama-era deal “terrible” and introduced the most biting sanctions on Iran in line with his administration’s “maximum pressure” policy on Iran. 

PA/PA

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