Iran decision to enrich uranium up to 20% was predictable: Russian diplomat

January 3, 2021 - 21:15

TEHRAN – A senior Russian diplomat has said that Iran’s decision to increase uranium enrichment level up to 20% was predictable.

The diplomat, Mikhail Ulyanov, who is Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, was commenting on a tweet by Gerard Araud, the former French ambassador to the U.S.

Following Iran’s move to inform the UN nuclear watchdog of its intention to increase uranium enrichment purity, Araud said the U.S. could have forecast this decision when it withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal –officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - in May 2018.

“In a confrontation, you should always think of what could be the reaction of the other side if you make a move. Foreign policy is a chess game. When leaving the nuclear deal, the US could have forecast this one. I am only surprised the Iranians waited for so long,” the former French diplomat said in a tweet on Saturday.

Ulyanov reacted the Araud’s tweet, saying he is right to think that the U.S. should have predicted Iran resuming its nuclear activities.
 
“Yes, we should have expected something like that, especially in the light of the law adopted recently by the Iranian Parliament. The only question is if this step is being made by Tehran on the right time?” the Russian diplomat tweeted on the same day.

He also confirmed that Iran has submitted a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying the IAEA director-general has briefed the IAEA Board of Governors and the UN Security Council on the latest Iranian decision.

“IAEA DG reported to the Board of Governors and UNSC about intention of #Tehran to start enrichment op to 20%. Usually, such confidential reports are leaked to media in 10 minutes. Today it happened in about 2 hours. The person who leaks is a human being - relaxed on the holiday,” Ulyanov said in a tweet on Friday.

The IAEA has confirmed in a statement that it was informed by Iran of the country’s plan to produce 20% enriched uranium.

“Iran has informed the Agency that in order to comply with a legal act recently passed by the country’s parliament, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran intends to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) up to 20 percent at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant,” the IAEA statement said.

The JCPOA has set a limit of 3.67% on Iran’s uranium enrichment. But following U.S. President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018, after a year Iran started to reduce its nuclear commitments, increasing its uranium enrichment level to 4.5%. Iran also accumulated more nuclear materials, including low enriched uranium, than what was permitted under the JCPOA.

“We are just like a soldier having his hand on the trigger”
 
On Friday, the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi, officially confirmed that Iran has told the IAEA that it will soon start 20% uranium enrichment in line with the recent law passed by the Iranian Parliament requiring the AEOI to make preparations to substantially increase the country’s nuclear activities within few months if the Western countries that are party to the 2015 nuclear deal fail to honor their obligations.

“We have sent a letter to the representative of the Islamic Republic to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna to submit it to the Agency. This letter was submitted to the Agency on Friday, informing it that we want to start 20% enrichment in accordance with the parliament law. Because we must inform the Agency and then its inspectors should come to unseal certain things that have been sealed,” the head of the AEOI said, according to a Fars News report.

He added, “God willing, we will start enriching [uranium] up to 20% soon. The president should issue an order. Of course, the president has already issued a preliminary order according to which we sent a letter to the Agency and made the announcement. We are just like a soldier having his hand on the trigger, waiting for the commander to issue an order to open fire. We are ready to do this and God willing, we will do it as soon as possible.”
According to Salehi, the decision to increase uranium enrichment purity was made in accordance with the recent law passed by the Iranian Parliament in November.

The nuclear law, officially called “Strategic Action to Lift Sanctions and Protect Nation’s Rights,” introduces a step-by-step strategy for the government to increase nuclear activities in few months if the other side failed to implement certain commitments. The law is part of a broader strategy that aims to lift the United States sanctions on Iran and was put forward by the lawmakers in early November. It aims to force the United States into lifting sanctions on Iran by doubling down on nuclear activities.

SM/PA

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