News ID: 261333
Published: 1155 GMT November 09, 2019

Iran: Fordo enrichment reaching pre-JCPOA levels

Iran: Fordo enrichment reaching pre-JCPOA levels

AEOI says ready to show IAEA inspector incident footage

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) confirmed that the Fordo facility is enriching uranium at almost the same levels before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

The rate will increase "gradually" as part of the country's new step away from the 2015 nuclear deal in response to violations by the United States, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said Saturday.

Speaking at a press conference from the Fordo nuclear site, Kamalvandi said the enrichment capacity after Iran started injecting gas into 1,044 centrifuges in Fordo has risen to some 9,500 separative work units (SWUs), which is 87 percent to 90 percent of the pre-JCPOA levels.

"Gradually, the enrichment capacity will increase at Fordo in the coming days," he said. "With the beginning of gas injection into the centrifuges at Fordo, the [enrichment] capacity of 8,600 SWUs will go all the way up to 9,500 SWUs and we won't be far off compared to before the JCPOA."

As part of the fourth rollback of its commitments under the nuclear deal in reciprocation for Washington’s pullout and Europe’s failure to meet its end of the bargain, Iran began injecting gas into its Fordo centrifuges earlier this week.

The step involves injecting UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) gas into centrifuges under the supervision of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Under the JCPOA, the first-generation IR-1 centrifuges at Fordo are only allowed to spin without uranium gas.

Asked whether the new step is the last technical one in Iran's suspension of its commitments, Kamalvandi said, "This is not the last step and other steps can also come into play."

"We have taken four steps and it's about time the other side comes into its senses. Of course there are other steps," he said, cautioning the remaining signatories of the deal – the UK, France, China, Russia and Germany – that the next steps won't be limited to technical matters.

Kamalvandi said Iran initially did not want to scale back its JCPOA obligations but decided to do so after the US decision to abandon the agreement disrupted the balance between commitments and tasks.

The Islamic Republic says the suspension of its commitments is not a violation of the JCPOA, adding it is based on articles 26 and 36 of the agreement itself, which detail mechanisms to deal with noncompliance.

The fate of the Iran deal has been in doubt since May 2018, when the US abruptly abandoned the deal and reinstated all the anti-Iran sanctions that it had lifted as part of the JCPOA.

Tehran says the European signatories — Britain, Germany and France — have so far failed to uphold their commitments. They have expressed vocal support for the deal, but failed to provide meaningful economic incentives as required under the nuclear agreement.


Inspector incident

Kamalvandi said the AEOI is prepared if necessary to release footage of an incident with a UN nuclear inspector last week that led to it canceling her accreditation.

Kamalvandi said that a check at the entrance gate to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant "triggered the alarm multiple times, showing (the inspector) was either contaminated with certain materials or had them on her."

He did not specify what the materials were or whether they had actually been found in her possession.

Kamalvandi said that Iran's report on the incident to the International Atomic Energy Agency had convinced everyone but "the US, the Zionist regime and some Persian Gulf countries."

"We've announced that if needed we will even present the footage of this," he said, noting that Iran's "bitter experiences" of nuclear sabotage had led to the strict system of checks.

The spokesman said that the Iranian government "legally speaking" had done nothing wrong in stopping the female inspector from touring its Natanz nuclear facility on Oct. 28.

He added that Iran was exercising its "rights" under its agreement with the IAEA when it revoked "her entrance and accreditation."

It marked the first known instance of Iran blocking an inspector amid tensions over the collapsing nuclear deal with world powers. The US unilaterally withdrew from the deal over a year ago.

Kamalvandi said Iran hasn't imposed any restriction on inspections.

"We welcome the inspections," he said, while warning against using them for "sabotage and leaking information."

Iran has accused its archfoes Israel and the United States of mounting a long campaign of sabotage involving the assassination of Iranian engineers and cyberattacks on key facilities.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of "an outrageous and unwarranted act of intimidation," while the European Union voiced "deep concern."

The IAEA said Thursday that the inspector was briefly prevented from leaving the country, adding that the treatment was "not acceptable."

Iran's ambassador to the agency, Kazem Gharibabadi, denied the inspector was ever detained, saying she was allowed to leave even though an investigation was still ongoing.

Under a 2015 deal between Iran and major powers, its nuclear facilities are subject to continuous monitoring by the IAEA.

Press TV, AFP and AP contributed to this story.



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