Iran secretly enriched uranium, sanctions to increase 'substantially'

Cheryl Sanders
July 10, 2019

Iran says it is justified in breaching the limits because the USA withdrew from the agreement a year ago and imposed sweeping sanctions.

The US president on Tuesday said Iran is "doing a lot of bad things".

"There is no credible reason for Iran to expand its nuclear program, and there is no way to read this as anything other than a crude and transparent attempt to extort payments from the global community", said a Trump administration statement issued at the closed-door session of the IAEA board in Vienna.

The US has accused Iran of a "crude and transparent attempt to extort payments from the worldwide community" by violating the 2015 nuclear deal.

She said Iran's "misbehavior" should "not be rewarded".

A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage after a group picture with foreign ministers and representatives of the U.S., Iran, China, Russia, Britain, Germany, France and the European Union during the Iran nuclear talks at the Vienna International Center in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015.

In a second violation on Sunday, Tehran announced that it would raise its uranium enrichment level over the 3.67% purity limit agreed to in the deal. It has offered to return to the agreement, but Trump has long rejected the deal, saying it was too generous to Tehran and did not address its involvement in regional conflicts.

The US called for the IAEA meeting after Iran announced last week that it had exceeded the amount of low-enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Weapons-grade uranium is 90% enriched or more. And now, Tehran's official position is that it will only talk to the United States if Washington removes the JCPOA-related sanctions that it implemented previous year.

The 2015 deal was tailored to extend the time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, if it chose to do so, to a year from around 2-3 months. Iran has repeatedly denied any intent to develop atomic bombs.

Last month Iran downed a US drone over the Persian Gulf but Trump decided not to retaliate, inviting criticism of not having a consistent approach. Tehran has reportedly demanded the ability to export 1.5 million barrels of crude oil a day - about the level it was exporting before the May 2019 USA decision not to renew waivers for Iran's oil customers - in exchange for remaining wholly committed to the JCPOA.

Diplomats are gathering in Vienna for a special meeting of the board of the U.N. atomic watchdog requested by the United States to discuss Iran's nuclear program.

"We call on Iran to reverse its recent nuclear steps and cease any plans for further advancements in the future".

Washington, meanwhile, is set on isolating Iran to force it to negotiate over the nuclear pact, its missile program and its actions in the region.

Iranian officials and observers have derided Washington's apparent demand Iran respect a deal it had abandoned.

Tensions over Iran's nuclear program exacerbated after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Actions (JCPOA) on Iran's nuclear program on May 8, 2018 and slapped United States economic sanctions on Iran's oil exports.

France and other countries have called on Iran to go back to complying with the nuclear deal.

Other reports by iNewsToday