Iran will inform the United Nations nuclear watchdog in Vienna on Tuesday of its plan to begin the process of increasing the country's uranium enrichment capacity within the limits of the nuclear agreement, the country's atomic energy agency spokesman has said. "In a letter that will be handed over to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ... Iran will announce that the process of increasing the capacity to produce ... UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) ... will start on Tuesday," Behrouz Kamalvandi told ISNA news agency. He said Iran had the capacity to accelerate production of centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium. The UF6 is raw material for centrifuges. "The leader meant that we should accelerate some process ... linked to our nuclear work capacity to move forward faster in case needed," Kamalvandi said, referring to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
President Hassan Rouhani has declared that Iran's nuclear industry is advancing at a faster pace, as one of his senior cabinet officials warned the country could ramp its uranium enrichment to 20 percent on short notice, if the United States withdraws from the nuclear agreement. "I want to clearly say to the Iranian nation that our nuclear industry is moving faster than before with more energy, accuracy and more exact calculation," the Iranian leader declared on Monday in a speech in Tehran. Rouhani was quoted by Mehr news agency as saying that Iran needs "both hard and soft power" while pursuing "constructive engagement" with the world. Without mentioning the US, he said other parties to the deal are "instigating Iran" to break its commitment to the agreement. Under the 2015 agreement, Iran promised to scale back its nuclear enrichment and give up its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Iran has launched a plan to increase its uranium enrichment capacity with new centrifuges, raising the pressure on European diplomats scrambling to rescue the crumbling nuclear deal after the US pulled out. "If conditions allow, maybe tomorrow night at Natanz [plant], we can announce the opening of the centre for production of new centrifuges," said the vice-president, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, according to conservative news agency Fars on Tuesday. "What we are doing does not violate the [2015 nuclear] agreement," he said, specifying this was just the start of the production process and "does not mean that we will start assembling the centrifuges". The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed it had received a letter from Iran, which Salehi said was submitted on Monday and outlined Tehran's plans. Under the 2015 nuclear agreement that Iran signed with world powers, it has the right to build and test certain centrifuges, although detailed restrictions exist for the first 10 years on the types and quantities of the machines.
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran says it has restarted production at a "major" uranium facility involved in its nuclear program, though it still pledges to follow the terms of the country's landmark atomic deal now under threat after President Donald Trump pulled America out of the accord. Iranian comments about the Isfahan plant, which produces material needed to make enriched uranium, appear aimed at pressuring Europeans and others to come up with a way to circumvent new American sanctions. Already, many international organizations are pulling back from promised billion-dollar deals with Tehran and the country's currency has entered a free-fall against the dollar. What comes next likely will resemble Iran's response to previous confrontation with the West over its contested atomic program. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said in a statement late Wednesday that it reopened a plant that converts yellowcake, a uranium powder, into uranium hexafluoride gas.