Iran says will halt 20% enrichment if U.S. lifts sanctions

January 8, 2021 - 17:42

TEHRAN — Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has said Iran will stop enriching uranium to 20 percent purity if U.S. sanctions against the country are lifted.

In an interview with Japan’s public broadcaster NHK on Wednesday, Araghchi said Iranians have suffered from the effects of U.S. sanctions over the past four years. 

He said that as a diplomat, he “would not lose a minute to ensure that sanctions are lifted once again.”

On Monday, government spokesman Ali Rabiei announced that Iran has started the process to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity at Fordow.

President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the implementation of a new law, dubbed the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, which has been already approved by the Parliament, Rabiei said.

Araghchi said if the sanctions are lifted and Iran can benefit from the nuclear deal, the country would return to its obligations, adding the 20 percent enrichment “can be easily and swiftly reversed.”

Commenting on Washington possibly signing up to the pact again, Araghchi said, “It is up to them to decide,” adding that “we welcome their return, but we are not begging for their return.”

Referring to the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden, Araghchi said Iran will wait “to see how they want to return” to the pact and its requirements.

U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled his country out of the historic nuclear agreement in May 2018 and pursued a policy of “maximum pressure” against the Islamic Republic.

The maximum pressure campaign prompted Iran to reduce its commitments under the nuclear deal, officially called the JCPOA, especially after the other signatories of the deal failed to protect Iran’s interests.

Iran, however, has repeatedly said that its actions can be reversed if the other parties fulfilled their JCPOA commitments.

In a tweet on Monday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran’s latest move conforms fully with paragraph 36 of the JCPOA, but also pointed out that Iran’s measures are fully reversible.

“We resumed 20% enrichment, as legislated by our Parliament. IAEA has been duly notified,” Zarif said.

“Our remedial action conforms fully with Para 36 of JCPOA, after years of non-compliance by several other JCPOA participants. Our measures are fully reversible upon FULL compliance by ALL,” he added.

Meanwhile, late on Monday, Tehran announced that it had produced its first UF6 (uranium hexafluoride or hex) product.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said that considering the previous experience of enrichment at the Fordow facility, the new production line for enriching uranium up to 20 percent was prepared very quickly.

He also said Iran is ready to enrich uranium at purity levels beyond 20 percent.

MH/PA

Leave a Comment

4 + 3 =