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Iran can resume 20-percent enrichment in 2-3 days: Official


An Iranian nuclear official says the Islamic Republic is able to resume the enrichment of uranium to the 20-percent purity level within a maximum of two or three days.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), told Fars news agency on Sunday that officials should be prepared for a possible resumption of the nuclear activities suspended under the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement.

“We will not begin the 20-percent enrichment for now, but we have to be ready to resume the activities halted if needed and if we see the JCPOA has no benefits,” he said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“Currently, pumps, monitors and other things are ready at Fordow [enrichment facility] like a vehicle ready to start with its key in place,” Kamalvandi pointed out.

The official said, “The 20-percent enrichment could be done swiftly and we are able to begin the process within a maximum of two or three days.”

The official also accused the Americans of seeking to prevent Iran’s sale of its surplus heavy water.

“We have sold part of our surplus heavy water and have good customers right now, but the Americans have approached some of the customers and told them not to buy from Iran,” he said.

Kamalvandi said, “Whether the JCPOA is in place or not, the heavy water market in the world is important for us and in addition to fulfilling our own needs, we can sell the remaining heavy water.”

On May 8, US President Donald Trump announced Washington’s pullout from the nuclear deal, vowing to reinstate nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose “the highest level” of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo later threatened Iran with the “strongest sanctions in history” if it did not comply with a list of steep demands, including ending uranium enrichment and closing a heavy water reactor.

Iran has said that it would make a decision on its future role in the JCPOA in the coming weeks once its negotiations with the other signatories are complete.

Tehran wants the European parties to give assurances that Iran’s interests would still be protected under the deal without the US.

Kamalvandi said the Islamic Republic does not trust the Europeans given their record and thus needs “real guarantees” from them.

“If the Europeans hesitate to respond to our demands, Iran reserves the right to begin its halted nuclear activities,” he said.

“The Europeans know that the US move to leave the JCPOA was wrong, but our demands need to be be heeded and implemented,” he said, warning that Iran would withdraw from the deal if its interests are not safeguarded.

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