IRAN - UN IAEA Tehran 'accelerating' production of enriched uranium

Erika Holt
June 13, 2019

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas arrives today in Tehran, where he will hold talks with his counterpart, Javad Zarif, on how to ensure the continuation of the 2015 nuclear agreement.

He said Iran's low-enriched uranium "production rate is increasing", but it wasn't clear yet whether it has exceeded the limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, which is known colloquially as the Iran nuclear deal.

"Europeans are not in a position to criticise Iran for issues outside the JCPOA", Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by the state broadcaster, using the acronym for the nuclear deal.

"Iran is actually weaponizing uranium enrichment without making a weapon", he said on Israel's Army Radio, adding that based on his "perhaps back-of-the-envelope" estimate, Iran could acquire an enriched nuclear weapon in six to eight months "if they put in their maximum effort". Western powers feared Iran's atomic program could allow it to build nuclear weapons, although Iran long has insisted its program was for peaceful purposes.

Friday's sanctions are part of the administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran and freeze any assets the targeted firms may have in USA jurisdictions and bar Americans from doing business with them.

The official expressed hope that with the Japanese Prime minister Shinzo Abe's visit to Iran the two countries could remove some of the hurdles in the way of bilateral trade.

"But I think there are also political and strategic interests in maintaining this agreement and thus the dialogue with Europe".

And yes, if it continues to pursue a nuclear program that would threaten not just the USA and Israel but the whole world, then military action must be considered to send Iran a more forceful message.

She added the U.S. would not support any payment mechanism that allowed countries or businesses to conduct transactions with sanctioned Iranian entities.

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Mohammad Javad Zarif said the U.S. "cannot expect to stay safe" after starting what he called an American "economic war" against Iran.

Maas also said that, in his talks, he would stress his concerns about Iranian activity in Syria and Yemen.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus has said that the only solution to tensions with Iran is "a new and better deal that addresses the full scope of Iran's threats".

"I. hope that ways can be found to reduce current tensions through dialogue", International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano said as he opened a meeting of the agency's board of governors.

Then last month, he ended exemptions from USA secondary sanctions for countries that continued buying oil from Iran.

The UN's nuclear watchdog said Monday it was "worried about increasing tensions" over Iran's nuclear programme, after Tehran said it might stop respecting more elements of a 2015 global deal. Maas acknowledged limits to how much help the European countries can provide.

"We can not work miracles, but we will try to avert a failure", Mr Maas said.

Tehran has accused the US of economic war against the country.

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