Iran’s decision to build up its uranium enrichment capability is a clear attempt to gain more weight at negotiations with the European Union, the chief of the Middle and Near East Center at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, Vladimir Fitin, said after Iran commissioned a centrifuge production center in Natanz.
Fitin believes that in this way Iran plays on the nerves of all participants in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
“This is a warning to US President Donald Trump. What will happen next depends on whether the deal will stay in effect with the United States not taking part in it,” Fitin said.
“After Washington quit the deal, the Iranians declared that they would resume full-scale implementation of their nuclear program,” Fitin recalled. “Tehran now tries to put more weight on the scales in its talks with the EU to demonstrate that it is not bluffing and is really ready to fully resume the frozen program.”
“Will Europe stand firm in the face of US pressures? Will the US introduce tough sanctions against the European companies that cooperate with Iran? Will the EU terminate all cooperation or go ahead with it to this or that extent? Whether the deal will stay in effect or not without the United States depends entirely on this.”
The chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Tuesday that the work on creating infrastructures in Natanz, where centrifuge manufacturing facilities are located, has already begun. He confirmed that Tehran had sent a message to the IAEA in which it was going to notify the agency uranium enrichment capabilities had begun to be increased.
Iran’s spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei earlier issued instructions to the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to start preparations for increasing uranium enrichment to a level of 190,000 SWUs (separative work units – a measure of uranium enrichment capacity) just in case the Iranian nuclear deal collapsed.
US pullout from JCPOA
US President Donald Trump on May 8 declared Washington had quit the JCPOA. US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on May 21 said Washington was determined to exert unprecedented pressures on Tehran. He warned that the toughest-ever sanctions would be introduced if Iran refused to revise its policy. Pompeo put forward twelve conditions for concluding a new deal on the Iranian nuclear program concerning both nuclear affairs and geopolitics.
The JCPOA was agreed between Tehran and six world powers (Britain, Germany, China, Russia, the United States and France) in 2015. In January 2016, it entered into the implementation phase. The plan envisages the lifting of sanctions from Iran imposed by the UN Security Council, the United States and the European Union. In exchange Tehran pledged to restrict its nuclear program and put it under international control.