Pre-JCPOA Uranium Enrichment Possible in 5 Days

Despite its readiness for all scenarios, Iran is not interested in seeing the collapse of the nuclear deal as it worked hard to reach the agreement and does not want to lose it easily
The nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi says Iran believes in JCPOA and is committed to it.The nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi says Iran believes in JCPOA and is committed to it.
If the Americans harm the nuclear agreement, Iran will adopt measures that will surprise them

The nuclear chief warned Iran could restore its uranium enrichment capacity to the pre-2015 nuclear deal level in a matter of days, if the US administration continues its policy of sanctions and pressure.

“If we want, we can resume 20% enrichment in the Fordo facility within a maximum of five days,” the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, told state TV on Tuesday.

That level of enrichment purity was capped below 3.67% under the nuclear accord with the six major powers, which curbed Tehran’s nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions.   

The pact, officially referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also committed Iran to cut the number of centrifuges installed at the Fordo and Natanz enrichment sites by two-thirds.

“If [the Americans] harm the action plan, we will surprise them,” Salehi said.      

His warning was intended to reinforce President Hassan Rouhani's threat last week that Iran could revert to its pre-JCPOA nuclear activities "in a short time—not a week or a month but within hours—to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations".

Uranium enriched to 20% of fissile purity has civilian applications, but can also be further refined to make nuclear bombs.

Iran has consistently denied western accusations that its nuclear work might have been aimed at developing a nuclear warhead and insists that it only has peaceful purposes.

Curbs Iran accepted under the deal included redesigning and reconfiguring the Arak heavy water reactor, which Salehi said "would not take more than a few months" to revert.

  Tehran Prefers Deal's Endurance

However, the AEOI director later toned down his threat, saying the Islamic Republic's preference is to remain in the accord.

"Definitely, we are not interested in seeing such a thing happen because we worked really hard to reach JCPOA and do not want to lose it easily. We believe in JCPOA and are committed to it," he said.

Despite US President Donald Trump's harsh stance toward JCPOA, his government has twice certified Iran's adherence since coming to power in January to comply with a US law that requires the administration to notify the US Congress about Iran's compliance every 90 days.

But he has made no secret of his desire to declare Iran in violation when the next review comes up on October 15.

A bill the Republican hawk signed into law last month to slap a new round of sanctions against the Islamic Republic has drawn strong objections from top Iranian officials who consider it a breach of JCPOA's spirit.

Salehi noted that if the deal falls through as a result of Trump's uncooperative approach, the US international stature would suffer a severe blow.

"In the event of JCPOA's collapse, America's political credibility will be harmed … and others will start questioning why they made commitments but broke them," he said.

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