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Rouhani: 60% enrichment Iran’s response to enemies’ malicious acts

President Hassan Rouhani says Iran’s decision to start enriching uranium to 60 percent purity — which followed a suspected Israeli act of sabotage at an Iranian nuclear site — was a response to the “malicious acts” perpetrated by the enemies of the Islamic Republic.

He made the remarks during a cabinet meeting in Tehran on Wednesday, three days after a suspected Israeli act of sabotage on Natanz nuclear site.

Following the attack, Iran announced that it had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of a plan to start 60-percent enrichment, under which 1,000 advanced centrifuges will be installed at the facility.

“The announcement that we will activate IR-6 centrifuges at Natanz or increase enrichment to 60% is the answer to your malice. You cannot commit a crime [and get away with it]. We will cut off you hand. We will cut off both of your hands, with IR-6 centrifuges and 60% enrichment. Obviously, we will not sit idly by,” Rouhani said.

“You want to disrupt Iran’s peaceful and legal [nuclear] technology, which is under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but we still act within the framework [specified by the agency]. Your work constitutes nuclear terrorism, but ours is legal.”

The Iranian chief executive also said the security and intelligence officials would present their final reports on the Natanz incident, which appears to be an Israeli crime.

“If the Zionists take action against our nation, we will respond. They have now received the first response,” said Rouhani. “If you make trouble for an IR-1 centrifuge, we will not replace it with another IR-1 but with an IR-6 to let you know that you cannot stop this technology with malice,” he added.

Rouhani further referred to the talks involving Tehran and the P4+1 group of countries — Britain, France, Russia, and China plus Germany — in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, which has been in crisis since the US withdrawal in 2018 and the subsequent re-imposition of anti-Iran sanctions.

The intended outcome of the discussions is for Washington to remove its sanctions and rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As the next step, Tehran would reverse the retaliatory measures it has been taking under Article 36 of the agreement.

Addressing those behind the sabotage, Rouhani said, “We know what you are doing. You want our hands to be empty in the negotiations, but we will join the talks with fuller hands. We will not let our hands be empty.”

“The answer we gave at Natanz is that we will use IR-6 machines instead of IR-1. Instead of 3.67% enrichment, we enrich [uranium] up to 60% [purity]. We will respond to your conspiracy, but at the same time, we say that our activities will definitely remain peaceful and under the supervision of the Agency.”

The president also stressed that the Islamic Republic has no problem with talks, but that it is not in a hurry and that it will negotiate based on its own logic.

“The United States must return to the same conditions in 2015, when we signed the JCPOA. We have to go back to July 2015. The same agreement and the same things said should be implemented. Our word is clear. As soon as the United States acts and we see that it is correct and operational, we will immediately fulfill all our obligations,” he added.

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