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Iran plays diplomatic hardball news on the eve of the enrichment period



Iran is expected to increase the level of uranium enrichment beyond the limit allowed under the 2015 Nuclear Accord to force Europe's hand to buy its oil while suppressing US sanctions.

On Monday, Iran announced a violation of the 300 kg limit on uranium that may be stored in its stock. The planned increase in Sunday's uranium enrichment above the upper limit of 3.67 percent is the next step in his plan to play hardball with Europe while trying to keep the nuclear deal alive.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday Foreign Policy Advisor Ali Akbar Velayati said Tehran could raise the level to five percent on July 7, marking the end of the 60-day deadline that Iran set for Europe to meet the financial incentives that exist in the nuclear agreement.

Velayati said the decision was a "result of consensus" in the Iranian establishment in response to the "breaches" of the remaining parties, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

US President Donald Trump had begun in 201

7 to dismantle the agreement that had been signed in the days of his predecessor Barack Obama. Trump eventually withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018 and months later began enforcing sanctions on Iran.

The mentioned 5% uranium enrichment of Velayati falls into the field of medical research and power generation.

Velayati explicitly mentioned the Bushehr reactor in the southwest of the country, which generates power for Iran, saying that a five percent purity is needed … to use uranium "at the nuclear power plant.

" We become our obligations as well as reduce them, "Velayati said, turning to the JCPOA signatories.

" But if they fulfill their commitments, we will do our part to fulfill them. "

On Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani also threatened to resume construction of a heavy water reactor in Arak.

Despite the sharp rhetoric aimed at gathering the local audience, the Iranian leader had some leeway for diplomatic maneuvers.

Velayati and Kermani emphasized that the increased uranium enrichment was intended for power generation and for "peaceful purposes" and "not for the production of nuclear bombs."

Rouhani also said that Iran will only take action if Europe fails to meet its obligations.

Iran is still a long way from weapons-grade nuclear armament. According to nuclear experts, it needs at least 1,500 kg of uranium, which is 90 percent enriched to build a single bomb.

Iran also dumped 12,000 kg of less enriched uranium and suspended its centrifuges in exchange for lifting international sanctions, allowing it to sell its oil on the international market.

Farhad Rezaei, an Iranian defense expert, told Al Jazeera that it was unlikely that Iran would "significantly violate the nuclear agreement and that enrichment would be at around five percent in the foreseeable future.

"This will give cause for concern, but it is not dangerous, because if the regime decides to go beyond and convert it into weapons-grade uranium, the IAEA [UN nuclear watchdog] and intelligence agencies will need to convert 1,500 kg of uranium into highly enriched uranium Iran is reinventing modern centrifuge models that are crucial to the company's break-ou t time.

"These are not the activities that Iranians can easily hide," he said, before adding that Iran, though he intends to build a bomb that would have already left the Nonproliferation Treaty.

"Even without the JCPOA, they must allow the IAEA inspectors to visit the sites and keep the program at a peaceful level," he said as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty An attractive option for Tehran leadership because the leadership knows the consequences are high, he said.

"All this maneuver They may be intended to convince the other JCPOA parties to resist Trump sanctions. If you listen to the Iranians, then they keep saying they just want to sell their oil. Not more. "

On Monday, British Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt expressed concern about the steps taken by Iran but did not threaten sanctions against Tehran and urged Iran to" return "in accordance with" the JCPOA.

As part of their efforts to rescue the nuclear deal, Germany, France and the United Kingdom created the Instrument for Trade Support (INSTEX) in January to stop trading with Iran, bypassing the US To facilitate sanctions.

INSTEX was put into operation on June 28th. However, the transactions were limited only to items that were already exempted from US secondary sanctions – buying their oil – something that Europe has so far resisted. With crude oil falling to 400,000 barrels a day, Iran is under financial pressure to increase its revenues.

"Stepping Forward But Not Enough"

Earlier, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi had announced the progress on INSTEX did not meet Iran's expectations.

"It was progress, but it still is not enough and does not meet Iran's expectations," Araqchi said.

Mehran Haghirian, a Tehran-based political analyst, is optimistic European signatories will be able to meet Tehran's demands.

"I think it's not too late for negotiations, it's never like that," said Haghirian.

As for diplomacy between Iran and the US, Rezaei, who is considered the crucial element in the survival of the nuclear deal, said, "All roads are closed."

"Trump's maximum pressure on one side and Khamenei's refusal to dialogue with the Trump government ended the diplomatic path," he said. "It's a dangerous situation, and any miscalculation on either side can quickly get out of hand and end in a full-scale war."


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