Tuesday, 19 Jan 2021 - 6 of Shevat, 5781

’Israel will not allow Iran to manufacture nuclear weapons’, EU warns Iran’s uranium enrichment would threaten nuclear deal

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“Iran’s decision to continue violating its commitments, to raise the enrichment level and advance the industrial ability to enrich uranium underground, cannot be explained in any way except as the continued realization of its intention to develop a military nuclear program,’’ said Israeli ¨Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“All participants are interested in keeping the deal alive. The deal will be kept alive as long as all participants keep their commitments,” an EU Commission spokesperson said. The EU said it would wait for a briefing by the head of the IAEA to EU member states before commenting further.

‘’Israel will not allow Iran to manufacture nuclear weapons,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated Monday after Iran announced it had resumed 20% uranium enrichment at an underground nuclear facility.

“Iran’s decision to continue violating its commitments, to raise the enrichment level and advance the industrial ability to enrich uranium underground, cannot be explained in any way except as the continued realization of its intention to develop a military nuclear program,’’ Netanyahu added.

The Iranian move is the latest contravention of the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

“A few minutes ago, the process of producing 20% enriched uranium has started in Fordow enrichment complex,” government spokesman Ali Rabeie told Iranian state media.

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency is set to inform members about developments in Iran, the IAEA said in response to the announcement.

European Commission spokesperson for foreign affairs Peter Stano said that the Iranian move ‘’if confirmed, would constitute a considerable departure from Iran’s commitments”.

“All participants are interested in keeping the deal alive. The deal will be kept alive as long as all participants keep their commitments.“

The EU said it would wait for a briefing by the head of the IAEA to EU member states before commenting further.

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal, mainly aimed to extend the time Iran would need to produce enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb to at least a year from roughly two to three months. It also lifted international sanctions against Tehran, which US President Donald Trump’s administration reimposed after leaving the Iran deal in 2018.

The US and Iran are ratcheting up tensions in the Persian Gulf around the anniversary of the death of Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a US drone strike last January 3. Some Iranian military forces have ramped up their readiness levels in recent days, according to US sources, including moving short-range ballistic missiles into Iraq, where they could potentially strike at US bases. Similar attacks happened last year in the wake of Soleimani’s death. Acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller has also ordered a US aircraft carrier to stay in the Persian Gulf region after it had been scheduled to move.

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