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.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – The star of a live television interview in Iran's new nuclear workshop wasn't the head of the country's atomic agency, but three centrifuges labeled in English in the background, advanced devices Tehran is prohibited from using by the nuclear deal with world powers. The placement of the centrifuges, identified as IR-2M, IR-4 and IR-6, may have served as a subtle warning to Europe as it tries to salvage the atomic accord after President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from it and restore U.S. sanctions. In recent days Iranian officials from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on down have vowed to boost the country's uranium enrichment capacity. The moves they have outlined would not violate the 2015 nuclear accord, but would allow Iran to quickly ramp up enrichment if the agreement unravels. "I think they've been quite clear in saying that if the U.S. pulls out and the EU doesn't live up to its side of the deal, it will rapidly increase its enrichment capacity," said Ian Stewart, the head of a nuclear proliferation study called Project Alpha at King's College London.
Iran will invite foreign companies to bid for oil and gas projects for the first time since last year's landmark nuclear deal with world powers, the country's Ministry of Petroleum said Sunday. The ministry did not say how many projects would be involved but said they include exploration and production in oil and gas fields, with the bidding process opening on Monday. It will be the first time Iran offers an international tender for oil and gas projects since the nuclear deal went into effect in January. The ministry's website said foreign companies should submit their applications by Nov. 19 and that successful companies would be announced on Dec. 7. Iran had previously said that priority for exploration and production for foreign companies would be given to neighboring countries with which it shares border fields.
The UK government has said it supports a "vitally important" nuclear deal with Iran, despite Israel saying the country is still covertly seeking atomic weapons. The US said Israel's claims were "consistent" with its own intelligence. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Tehran of not "telling the truth". Six nations signed an accord in 2015 lifting sanctions on Iran if it abandoned its nuclear weapons programme. Iran, which says it has only ever sought to develop nuclear energy, said Israel's revelations were a "childish stunt" aimed at influencing US President Donald Trump's decision on whether to remain in the deal.