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Khamenei says Iran may enrich uranium to 60% purity if needed


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Khamenei says Iran may enrich uranium to 60% purity if needed

By Parisa Hafezi

 

2021-02-22T203530Z_2_LYNXMPEH1L134_RTROPTP_4_IRAN-KHAMENEI.JPG

FILE PHOTO: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a televised speech in Tehran, Iran, January 8, 2021. Official Khamenei Website/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION/File Photo

 

DUBAI (Reuters) - Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday Iran might enrich uranium up to 60% purity if the country needed it and would never yield to U.S. pressure over its nuclear programme, state television reported.

 

Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with six powers, which it has been breaching since the United States withdrew in 2018, caps the fissile purity to which Tehran can refine uranium at 3.67%, well under the 20% achieved before the agreement and far below the 90% suitable for a nuclear weapon.

 

"Iran's uranium enrichment level will not be limited to 20%. We will increase it to whatever level the country needs ... We may increase it to 60%," the TV quoted Khamenei as saying, upping the ante in a stand-off with U.S. President Joe Biden's administration over the future of the fraying deal.

 

"Americans and the European parties to the deal have used unjust language against Iran ... Iran will not yield to pressure. Our stance will not change," Khamenei said.

 

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Khamenei's comments "sounds like a threat" and declined to respond to what he described as "hypotheticals" and "posturing".

 

He reiterated U.S. willingness to engage in talks with Iran about returning to the 2015 nuclear deal.

 

The Biden administration said last week it was ready to talk to Iran about both nations returning to the accord abandoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump.

 

Tehran said last week it was studying a European Union proposal for an informal meeting between current members of the deal and the United States, but has yet to respond to it.

 

Iran, which has resumed enriching to 20% in an apparent bid to heap pressure on the United States, has been at loggerheads with Washington over which side should take the initial step to revive the accord.

 

Although under domestic pressure to ease economic hardships worsened by sanctions, Iranian leaders insist Washington must end its punitive campaign first to restore the deal, while Washington says Tehran must first return to full compliance.

 

DIPLOMACY PATH

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday Washington intended to bolster and extend the 2015 pact, which aimed to limit Iran's enrichment potential - a possible pathway to atomic bombs - in exchange for a lifting of most sanctions.

 

Blinken, addressing the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, said in a pre-recorded speech: "The United States remains committed to ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. Diplomacy is the best path to achieve that goal."

 

Khamenei, in his televised remarks, repeated a denial of any Iranian intent to weaponise uranium enrichment.

 

He added: "That international Zionist clown (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) has said they won't allow Iran to produce nuclear weapons. First of all, if we had any such intention, even those more powerful than him wouldn't be able to stop us."

 

To pressure the Biden administration to drop sanctions, Iran's hardline-dominated parliament passed a law last year obliging the government to end roving snap inspections by the U.N. nuclear watchdog from Tuesday if sanctions are not lifted.

 

Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Kazem Gharibabadi, said Iran had ended the implementation of the so-called Additional Protocol, which allows International Atomic Energy Agency to carry out short-notice inspections at midnight (2030 GMT).

 

To create room for diplomacy, the U.N. watchdog on Sunday reached a deal with Iran to cushion the blow of Iran's reduced cooperation and refusal to permit short-notice inspections.

 

Iranian lawmakers protested on Monday at Tehran's decision to permit "necessary" monitoring by U.N. inspectors for up to three months, saying this broke the new law.

 

(Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Arshad Mohammed and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington; Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Alison Williams)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2021-02-23
 
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Good post but expect to receive couple of negative comments from some of the members here who are thinks that Iran is a peace loving nation who develops nukes for peaceful purposes only...

Don’t think you are in a good position to play brinkmanship with all due respect one push of the button could destroy your country personally I’d like to see the Iranian navy sunk that would stop a lo

....or want to defend themselves against outside aggressors!

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One push of the button is crazy talk all that will do is get Iran to ordered the best missile defense system in the world today the S-400.

Take the economic sanctions away and let it be known it's being done for the Iranian people not the religious leaders.

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3 hours ago, Tug said:

Don’t think you are in a good position to play brinkmanship with all due respect one push of the button could destroy your country personally I’d like to see the Iranian navy sunk that would stop a lot of their interference if it comes to that let’s hope it doesent a peaceful diplomatic solution is preferable yes?

 

There's no finger on no button. No one's going to 'destroy' Iran. As far as negative consequences go there are basically only two scenarios, both unlikely to actually materialize - sanctions or a limited strike. Nothing more severe than that on the cards, actually making it a good time for Iran to play chicken. The Biden administration may not be a pushover, but is committed to diplomacy and negotiations, so wouldn't take steps to fan flames or such that are irrevocable.

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2 hours ago, Kwasaki said:

One push of the button is crazy talk all that will do is get Iran to ordered the best missile defense system in the world today the S-400.

Take the economic sanctions away and let it be known it's being done for the Iranian people not the religious leaders.

 

Don't know how you mean 'let it be known', or why do assume it would be seen as anything but the Iranian regime bending the USA's arm.

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Iran says the USA must sign first.

 

The USA says Iran must sign first.

 

How about getting the senior administrators of both sides to meet in a neutral country, say Switzerland or Sweden to thrash out an agreement, and then both sides can sign at the same time.

 

That should stop all the arguments about who goes first or second. Additionally the neutral country can send representatives to check what is happening in real time.

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1 hour ago, Morch said:

 

Don't know how you mean 'let it be known', or why do assume it would be seen as anything but the Iranian regime bending the USA's arm.

Well there's ways and means of the Iranian people finding out but whatever something needs to be done about lifting sanctions IMHO and start some peace talks instead of both sides threatening one and other. 

Does the west and US want peace or esculation.

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1 hour ago, Morch said:

 

 basically only two scenarios, both unlikely to actually materialize - sanctions or a limited strike.

The Biden administration may not be a pushover, but is committed to diplomacy and negotiations, so wouldn't take steps to fan flames or such that are irrevocable.

Hope you're right about the Biden camp. 

A limited strike would be disasterous and ruin anyway forward the same if Israel make a strike it would just esculate out of control. 

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Enriching uranium up to 20% s much more difficult to do than further enriching it even to weapon grade 90% .  That is about their only way to put in a bit of pressure in the political game .  They do not openly talk about it , but they know that everybody knows .  They know that they would not win a war against Israel and some western forces .

They pretend to be able to , but they are not idiot enough to really believe so .  They want the sanctions lifted , that is of utmost importance to them in the moment.  They are quite predictable , actually ... more than Kim Yong Un f.e.

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6 hours ago, billd766 said:

Iran says the USA must sign first.

 

The USA says Iran must sign first.

 

How about getting the senior administrators of both sides to meet in a neutral country, say Switzerland or Sweden to thrash out an agreement, and then both sides can sign at the same time.

 

That should stop all the arguments about who goes first or second. Additionally the neutral country can send representatives to check what is happening in real time.

 

I think that, by now, both sides are held back by the build-up of their own rhetoric. More so, perhaps, as far as the Iranian regime goes. As far as I understand, they are exchanging messages, if indirectly. Might have been easier to do it face to face, but that would cost some face for both. If I remember correctly, the Swiss Embassy in Iran is indeed acting as the USA's official(?) representative in-country.

 

And no, it wouldn't stop all the argument, seeing as the who-agrees-to-it-first part. Each side thinking the other would leak/out them if they give an inch.

 

However, I'm rather sure they'll sort it out in the near future. Much of the "escalation" is chest-beating, playing for domestic consumption, and testing the waters.

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6 hours ago, Kwasaki said:

Well there's ways and means of the Iranian people finding out but whatever something needs to be done about lifting sanctions IMHO and start some peace talks instead of both sides threatening one and other. 

Does the west and US want peace or esculation.

 

Alright, so I'm asking how is this to be achieved, and you say 'ways and means' which means little. And 'peace talks'? Not aware there's a state of war on between the two nations. Or did you mean regional peace talks? Don't think the Iranian regime is up for that (and the same goes for other relevant parties).

 

Your last line gives away the game, some - why is it only 'the west and US'? Does Iran have no part in it? Are both China and Russia not parties to this?

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