Iran wants to enrich uranium to 20% even after nuclear deal – nuclear chief

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting via video conference with people from East Azarbaijan in Tehran, Iran February 17, 2022. Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY/FILE PHOTO

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DUBAI, Feb 25 (Reuters) – Iran will continue to enrich uranium to 20% purity even after sanctions on it were lifted and a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers was revived, Iranian news outlets quoted the country’s nuclear chief as saying on Friday.

“(Uranium) enrichment … will continue with a 60% cap, which caused Westerners to rush into negotiations, and will continue with the lifting of 20% and 5% sanctions,” said the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammad Eslami, was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars news agency.

The 2015 deal limits the purity to which Iran can enrich uranium to 3.67%, well below the roughly 90% that is weapons-grade or the 20% Iran achieved before the deal. Iran is now enriching at various levels, the highest being around 60%. Continue reading

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Eslami did not elaborate or explain how 20 percent enrichment would be acceptable under the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran is trying to revive through indirect talks with the United States.

Iranian officials had previously told Reuters that Iran had agreed to suspend its 20 and 60 percent enrichment if an agreement to save the 2015 pact was reached at the Vienna talks

Separately, a senior Iranian cleric previously said that ending Iran’s economic isolation by lifting banking and oil trade sanctions was Tehran’s top demand in talks with world powers in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

Iran on Wednesday urged the West to be “realistic” in the talks as its chief negotiator returned to Tehran after months of indirect talks with the United States for what may be final consultations ahead of a possible deal. Continue reading

“Our negotiators … are doing their best to protect the interests of the nation and know that the last point is the lifting of all sanctions, especially in the banking and trade sectors,” Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said at Friday prayers in Tehran.

“If these sanctions are not lifted, it will be as if there were no talks,” state media quoted him as saying.

The general content of sermons delivered at Friday prayers is determined by the Office of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on Iran’s nuclear policy and all other state affairs.

After 10 months of talks in Vienna, progress has been made on restoring the pact to contain Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions, but both Tehran and Washington have warned there are still some significant differences to be overcome.

A majority of hard-line Iran’s parliament last week demanded in a letter that the United States guarantee it would not abandon a restored deal. The assembly did not vote on the letter. Continue reading

A senior Iranian official told Reuters Iran has shown flexibility by agreeing to “inherent guarantees” that the US government will not terminate a deal, as Washington says it is impossible for President Joe Biden to provide the legal assurances Iran is asking for admit.

Iran insists on the immediate lifting of all sanctions imposed under former US President Donald Trump in a verifiable process, including those imposed under terrorism or human rights measures.

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Reporting by Dubai Newsroom, edited by William Maclean

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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