TEHRAN - The head of Iran's nuclear program said Sunday that the Islamic Republic has begun "preliminary activities for designing" a modern process for 20-percent uranium enrichment for its 50-year-old research reactor in Tehran, signaling new danger for the nuclear deal. Restarting enrichment at that level would mean Iran had withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers, an accord that President Donald Trump already pulled America out of in May. However, Ali Akbar Salehi's comments to state television appeared aimed at telling the world Iran would slowly restart its program. If it chooses, it could resume mass enrichment at its main facility in the central Iranian town of Natanz. "Preliminary activities for designing modern 20 percent (enriched uranium) fuel have begun," state TV quoted Salehi as saying.
TEHRAN – Iran will start injecting uranium gas into over a thousand centrifuges at a fortified nuclear facility built inside a mountain, the country's president announced Tuesday in Tehran's latest step away from its atomic accord with world powers since President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal over a year ago. President Hassan Rouhani's announcement means that Iran's Fordo nuclear facility, publicly revealed only 10 years ago, again will become an active atomic site rather than a research facility as envisioned by the landmark 2015 accord. The State Department announced days ago that it would renew a waiver allowing Russia's state-run Rosatom nuclear company to continue its conversion work at the site. The announcement represents a significant development as Fordo's 1,044 centrifuges previously spun empty for testing purposes under the deal. It also increases pressure on European nations that remain in the accord to offer Iran a way to sell its crude oil abroad.
An Iranian factory has started to produce rotors for up to 60 centrifuges a day, upping the stakes in a confrontation with the United States over the Islamic Republic's nuclear work. The announcement by the head of Iran's atomic agency on Wednesday came a month after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered agencies to prepare to increase uranium enrichment capacity, if a nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after Washington's withdrawal. Under terms of the 2015 agreement, which was also signed by Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief. The other signatories have scrambled to save the accord, arguing it offers the best way to stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. Iran has said it will wait to see what the other powers will do, but signalled it is ready to get its enrichment activities back on track.
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's nuclear chief told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he hopes the atomic deal between Tehran and world powers survives, but warns the program will be in a stronger position than ever if not. Ali Akbar Salehi also told the AP in an exclusive interview Tuesday in Tehran that the "consequences . A string of bombings, blamed on Israel, targeted a number of scientists beginning in 2010 at the height of Western concerns over Iran's program. Salehi also said that President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw America from the 2015 accord "puts him on the loser's side" of history. He added: "That deal could have paved the way for building the trust and the confidence that we had lost."