Tehran needs only five days to increase uranium enrichment to a level sufficient to make a nuclear weapon, Iran’s atomic chief has warned. The warning comes as US President Donald Trump seeks to renegotiate the 2015 nuclear deal.
“If there is a plan for a reaction and a challenge, we will definitely surprise them,” the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said Tuesday, as quoted by AP. “If we make the determination, we are able to resume 20 percent enrichment in at most five days,” he said on national television.
Salehi underlined that Iran is not keen on such a scenario, saying that “definitely, we are not interested in such a thing happening. We have not achieved the deal easily to let it go easily. We are committed to the deal and we are loyal to it.”
In 2015, Iran struck a landmark deal with the US, France, the UK, Russia, China and Germany, under which it agreed to cap its uranium enrichment at 5 percent, as well as to reduce its stockpile of the material in exchange for the lifting of sanctions.
“Our biggest priority is to maintain the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), but of course not at any price,”AFP cited Salehi as saying.
The top nuclear official’s warning follows comments from President Hassan Rouhani saying that Iran could backtrack on the 2015 nuclear agreement “within hours” and reach “conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations” of the long-awaited deal.
“The world has clearly seen that under Trump, America has ignored international agreements and, in addition to undermining the [nuclear deal], has broken its word on the Paris agreement and the Cuba accord… and that the United States is not a good partner or a reliable negotiator,” Rouhani said, following the introduction of the latest round of US sanctions in early August.
Trump has been weighing up leaving the 2015 nuclear deal or renegotiating it, branding it “the worst deal ever.” Struck by the previous administration under Barack Obama, the deal has drawn strong criticism from Trump, who sees it as a capitulation to Iran.
“Those who want to tear up the nuclear deal should know that they will be ripping up their own political life,” President Rouhani warned, adding that Tehran wouldn’t “remain silent about the repeated US violations of the accord.”
Trump signed a legislation on a new raft of penalties, targeting Iran along with Russia and North Korea, after Iran successfully fired its Simorgh rocket, designed to deliver satellites into orbit, as part of the national space program. Washington, however, considered the action a violation of the UN Security Council Resolution, saying the technology could be used to carry nuclear weapons.
Moscow criticized the sanctions as “illegitimate,” with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov expressing hope the sides wouldn’t abandon the 2015 agreement.