Iran ‘can enrich uranium in five days’, if US scraps N deal

Dhaka,  Tue,  26 September 2017
Published : 22 Aug 2017, 21:22:32
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Iran ‘can enrich uranium in five days’, if US scraps N deal

TEHRAN, Aug 22 (Agencies): Iran can resume high-level uranium enrichment within five days if the United States tears up the nuclear deal, the head of its Atomic Energy Organisation said Tuesday.

"If we make a determination, at most in five days we can start 20-per cent enrichment in Fordo (nuclear plant)," said Ali Akbar Salehi in an interview with state broadcaster IRIB.

"Of course we would not like such a thing to happen as we made a lot of effort to achieve the JCPOA (nuclear deal)," he added.

The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi to Iranian state television come as U.S. President Donald Trump repeatedly has threatened to renegotiate or walk away from the 2015 nuclear deal.

Salehi's warning, along with recent comments by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, show Iran is willing to push back against Trump while still acknowledging they want to keep the deal, which lifted crippling economic sanctions on the country.

"If there is a plan for a reaction and a challenge, we will definitely surprise them," said Salehi, who also serves as one of Rouhani's vice presidents.

He added: " We are committed to the deal and we are loyal to it."

Iran gave up the majority of its stockpile of 20-per cent enriched uranium as part of the nuclear deal it struck with world powers, including Trump's predecessor, President Barack Obama. The accord, which lifted sanctions on Iran, currently caps the Islamic Republic uranium enrichment at 5.0 per cent.

While Iran long has maintained its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, uranium enriched to 20 per cent and above can be used in nuclear bombs. Iran processed its stockpile of near 20 per cent uranium into a lower enrichment, turned some into fuel plates to power a research reactor and shipped the rest to Russia as part of the deal.

The Obama administration and most independent experts said at the time of the deal that Iran would need at least a year after abandoning the deal to have enough nuclear material to build a bomb. Before the deal was struck, they said the timeframe for Iran to "break out" toward a bomb was a couple of months.
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