Leader’s advisor: Iran may boost uranium enrichment level to 5%
Iran’s diplomatic mission to Vienna, where the UN International Atomic Energy Agency is based, described as a “sad irony” a request by the United States for a meeting of the nuclear watchdog.
The US called an emergency meeting of IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors to discuss Iran, after Tehran scaled down its commitments to its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers from which Washington pulled out more than a year ago.
“The fact that the US, as the prime violator of the JCPOA, has tabled this request, indicates its isolation in contradicting multilateralism and rule of law in international affairs,” Iran’s permanent mission said on Twitter using the acronym for the nuclear agreement.
In another tweet, the Iranian mission said: “It is indeed a sad irony that the same regime which materially violated the JCPOA by withdrawing illegally and unilaterally from the deal, and has been pushing others to follow suit, thereby hampering its implementation by the international community.”
Any country on the board can call a meeting, and the IAEA confirmed in a note to member states that the meeting would be held next Wednesday after the agency this week said Iran had exceeded the maximum stock of enriched uranium set under the deal.
What exactly the meeting would achieve, however, was unclear, diplomats said.
Parties to the deal have a separate forum they meet in called the Joint Commission, and the deal lays out possible action that can be taken there. Washington pulled out of both the deal and the Joint Commission last year in May.
The IAEA is in charge of verifying the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities set by the deal, which also lifted international sanctions against Tehran. The IAEA has repeatedly said it is up to the parties to the deal to decide whether there has been a breach of its terms.
Iran has said it will go over the deal’s nuclear restrictions in retaliation against economic sanctions the US has imposed on it since its withdrawal. Iran has said that as of July 7 it will enrich uranium beyond the 3.67% purity cap set by the deal.
Other signatories to the 2015 deal, apart from Iran and the United States, are Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany. Those five countries seek to preserve the accord.
Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran’s Leader, said the Islamic Republic is ready to enrich uranium to at least five percent purity after today’s deadline.
"For instance, in order for us to be able to make use of uranium at Bushehr reactor, a five percent purity is needed, and it is a totally peaceful purpose that we generate power from the reactor jointly built by Iran and Russia," Velayati said.
Bushehr, Iran’s only nuclear power plant, is now running on imported fuel from Russia that’s closely monitored by the IAEA.
Iran stopped producing uranium enriched above five percent in January 2014 amid negotiations for the nuclear deal.
The higher level of enriched uranium will also be useful for the country's other routine, industrial, and energy needs, which "are vital for us", he said.
Velayati said that increasing enrichment was “the decision as a result of a consensus among all pillars of the ruling system, and the country will undoubtedly do what it has pledged."
According to Velayati, Tehran is responding in kind to the violation of the JCPOA by the remaining signatories to the accord.
“We will show reaction exponentially as much as they violate it. We reduce our commitments as much as they reduce it,” he said.
He stressed that Tehran will not withdraw from the agreement unless the other sides walk away from it.
"We definitely won't initiate any move, unless the other side makes it first. So far ... the Americans have violated the JCPOA directly and the Europeans have done so indirectly; so we will show reaction exactly proportional to the extent of their breach of the deal," he said.
Velayati, however, stressed that Iran's measures are reversible in case the other parties fulfill their commitments.
Reuters, AP and Press TV contributed to this story.