Iran says nuclear industry can function at pre-agreement levels

Tehran, Jan 15 (IANS) Iran’s nuclear industry is capable of functioning at the same level as it did prior to the country’s signing of an international treaty reducing its uranium enrichment, the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) said on Sunday.

AEOI deputy Ali Asghar Zarean said Iran could revert to its pre-agreement nuclear capabilities if any of the treaty’s signatories did not uphold its commitments, Efe news agency reported.

“We’re capable of obtaining any desired level of enrichment,” Zarean said.

He explained that this was possible due to the ties between Iran’s nuclear industry and the Asian nation’s top universities.

Zarean added that Iran could again produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) with a concentration of 20 per cent, which it was already doing before the treaty signed with the P5+1 (the US, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany) entered into force on January 16, 2016.

The nuclear deal established that Iran would accept limitations to and a higher international supervision of its civil nuclear programme.

This includes reducing Iran’s enriched uranium reserves to less than 300 kilograms and keeping enrichment levels at four per cent, a much lower figure than the 90 per cent needed to fuel a nuclear weapon.

In exchange, the P5+1 agreed to lift diplomatic and trade sanctions that were asphyxiating the Iranian economy.

Zarean’s comments came after Rex Tillerson — US nominee for Secretary of State — recently said that a review of the deal was needed.

Iranian authorities said they would not allow changes to the deal, pointing out that as the treaty had been signed with five other states, the US cannot unilaterally decide to change it.

Tehran has also frequently accused Washington of violating the accord, especially with the recent vote to extend sanctions on Iran for another 10 years.