Supreme Leader: Iran to Enrich Uranium Up to 60% If Needed
TEHRAN (FNA)- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said that Iran is not after nuclear weapons, but it will not stop at 20% enrichment of uranium, and will increase enrichment up to 60% based on the country’s needs.
“The Islamic Republic will not retreat from its rational stance on the nuclear issue and will pursue enriching uranium to the extent that is required for the interests of the country even up to 60 percent enrichment,” the Supreme Leader said in session with the members of the Assembly of Experts on Monday.
Pointing to a recent parliamentarian law obliging the government to scale back some of its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Ayatollah Khamenei stated, “The parliament ratified a law and the government welcomed it. They carried out some works that should be done until yesterday and hopefully, another part of the law will be implemented tomorrow [Tuesday].”
He further referred to likely differences of opinion between the legislative and executive branches, stressing that such differences can be resolved and the two sides should cooperate and avoid escaping or escalating such differences, which could be interpreted as duality in the country.
“The government considers itself obliged to implement laws and this law which is a good law should be implemented carefully,” the Leader noted.
He also described recent comments made by the US and three European states on Iran as arrogant, bullying, unfair and manifesting a false rhetoric.
Ayatollah Khamenei added that the Islamic Republic has complied with its commitments based on the Islamic teachings from the day one until a long period, but the other parties who have not lived up to their obligations were these four states; thus, they should be held accountable and castigated for their behavior.
The Supreme Leader further said that such a behavior will make them more disgusted in the eyes of the Iranian people.
He went on to say, “The US withdrew from the JCPOA and other signatories to the deal collaborated with the Americans in this respect; so, the holy Quran teaches that the Islamic Republic must abandon the agreement, although, the respectful Iranian government did not quit the commitments, but it gradually scaled back parts of them, which are reversible if the other signatories abide by their commitments.”
“That clown of the global Zionism [Benjamin Netanyahu] is permanently saying that he will not allow Iran to attain nuclear weapons; however, it should be said that if the Islamic Republic had decided to attain atomic bomb, the Zionists and powers bigger than them could not have been able to prevent it,” the Supreme Leader stated.
“Any weapons, whether nuclear or chemical which murder ordinary people, are forbidden based on Islamic laws,” he noted.
Referring the massacre of over 220,000 people following US atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan during World War II as well as the ongoing siege of Yemen and daily pounding of markets, mosques, hospitals and schools in the war-torn country with the Western weapons, Ayatollah Khamenei stated that the killing of civilians is the method of the Americans and Westerners, and it is not acceptable by Iran; therefore, Tehran does not think about nuclear weapons.
The Supreme Leader also said that the Westerners are well aware that Iranians do not seek nuclear weapons.
Ayatollah Khamenei stressed that the issue of nuclear weapon is just an excuse, “They are opposed to Iran's access even to conventional weapons, because they want to prevent Iran from attaining any kind of factor of might.”
Noting that nuclear power can provide nations with cheaper and cleaner energy and they will turn into one of the main sources of energy in the near future, he stressed that Iran needs to start enriching uranium today to meet its requirements in this regard, because tomorrow is late.
“The Westerners want Iran to be in need of them whenever it needs nuclear energy in a bid to exploit it as a tool for imposition, bullying and extortion on the Islamic Republic,” Ayatollah Khamenei warned.
“The Islamic Republic will not pull back on nuclear issue as it has done in other issues and it will continue the path based on the country's interests and needs,” the Supreme Leader stated.
The Iranian legislature on Monday started litigation against President Rouhani's administration over a paragraph in the agreement between the country’s Atomic Organization and the UN nuclear watchdog on ending Tehran's voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT.
Some 221 Iranian legislators voted to send a report of the National Security and Foreign Policy Commission that entails a legal complaint on the government's violation of the Strategic Action Law on Lifting Sanctions to the Judiciary, calling for the punishment of those responsible for the agreement.
The Joint Statement of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has also been enclosed to the complaint to demand the Judiciary to verify the violation.
Iran plans to end its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT on Tuesday and the AEOI-IAEA agreement that came at the end of the IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi to Tehran on Sunday night also endorsed the move. Yet, the legislature's dissatisfaction with the agreement mainly pertains to a paragraph that says Tehran will cut off online transfer of data by IAEA surveillance cameras, but continues recording for three months. If sanctions are removed by then, Tehran will deliver the recordings and data to the IAEA, and if not, they will be discarded. The IAEA surveillance cameras and online data transfer is part of the inspections carried out under the additional protocol to the NPT, which Iran has been implementing on a voluntary basis as part of the nuclear deal undertakings.
“The joint agreement and statement of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran is a clear violation of the law on strategic action to lift sanctions and protect the interests of the Iranian people, and we request an interim cancellation by the Judiciary,” the legislature's complaint sent to the judiciary said.
It added that President Hassan Rouhani, as head of the executive, is charged with the implementation of the parliaments approvals, and should, hence, account for the violation alongside all others involved in this violation.
Tehran will stop the voluntary implementation of the additional protocol to the NPT on Tuesday after the Biden administration refrained from removing the sanctions against Iran in compliance with the terms of UN Resolution 2231 and the nuclear deal.
Yet, Tehran has stressed that IAEA inspections would continue under the NPT similar to the era before the implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as Iran is still a signatory to the treaty.
Last week, Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Behrouz Kamalvandi had said the Saturday visit to Tehran by the UN nuclear watchdog chief is aimed at discussing bilateral ties as well as implementation of the Iranian parliament's law to stop inspections beyond the safeguards agreements.
Kamalvandi said on Wednesday that Grossi will visit Tehran on Saturday evening and will hold meetings with the head and the other officials of the AEOI on Sunday.
He said that the visit is about the method to implement the contents of the February 15 letter of Iran to the Agency about the parliament's strategic law of sanctions removal, adding that it takes place at the request of the IAEA.
Kamalvandi said that the law of the parliament mandates that the government should stop inspections beyond the safeguards agreements by February 23.
He added that other issues to be addressed during the visit will be technical issues and cooperation between Tehran and the Agency.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that his government will stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT as of February 21 in compliance with parliament law.
“The law that the parliament has passed on the nuclear issue will be implemented by the government,” Rouhani said, adding, “One of the paragraphs [of the law] reiterates that we should exit from the Additional Protocol as of February 23; and we will cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency on the basis of the Safeguards.”
He stressed that there is no place for weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, in Iran's defense doctrine as the firm view of the establishment.
"We will not look for nuclear weapons, but for the peaceful nuclear technology that is our right," Rouhani went on to say.
Also, on Tuesday, Iranian Government Spokesman Ali Rabiyee announced on Tuesday that the country will stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the NPT due to the US and other parties’ disloyalty to the nuclear deal.
“Based on the sixth paragraph of the parliament’s bill and given the fact that sanctions have not been removed so far, the government and the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) are required to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol which will decrease the supervisions and inspections beyond the IAEA’s safeguards agreements,” Rabiyee told reporters in a press conference.
He noted that the measure does not take time and can be carried out rapidly, but meantime, said Iran is still a member of the safeguards agreements, which means that a major part of the inspections which are not within the framework of the Additional Protocol will continue.
“Therefore, stopping the voluntary implementation of the protocol does not mean terminating cooperation with the Agency. This cooperation will continue and the Islamic Republic of Iran will definitely inform the Agency of all its moves in advance in a letter, as has been the case so far,” Rabiyee said.
“It is clear that this new measure is against Iran’s will and was adopted due to the US lagging in lifting sanctions and fulfilling its obligations under the UN Security Council Resolution 2231. We continue to consider the nuclear deal a creditable agreement and the best possible agreement, and we are ready to immediately reverse all steps taken under paragraph 36 of the nuclear deal to their original status as stated in the nuclear deal provided that the US and other parties to the agreement revive their undertakings,” he added.
Rabiyee expressed the hope that the US and three European members of the nuclear deal (France, Britain and Germany) would take the closing window of opportunity to keep diplomacy alive.
Last month, Iranian Envoy and Permanent Representative to the UN Majid Takht Ravanchi underlined that if Biden decides to return to the nuclear deal, Washington should comply with all its undertakings in exact accordance with the internationally-endorsed agreement.
“We make decision and take reciprocal action considering Biden's moves vis a vis the nuclear deal. We have repeatedly demanded the US to return to the nuclear deal and this return should be complete and without preconditions, that is to say, no issue related or unrelated to the nuclear deal should be put forward for discussion,” Takht Ravanchi said.
“It should only be clear that the US international undertakings cannot be half-fulfilled. If they claim to return to the nuclear deal, this return should be accompanied by the full implementation of their undertakings with no hesitation or controversy,” he added.
Takht Ravanchi stressed Iran’s clear position towards the nuclear deal, and said, “We live up to our undertakings.”
He referred to the parliament’s bill to take strategic measures to counter the US sanctions against Iran, and said, “There is a timetable in the parliament’s bill and we are moving in the same direction, so we (at the foreign ministry) are not entitled to specify the period for how long we will wait. In the first place, we make decisions based on national interests, and secondly, we should act on the basis of and within the framework of the parliamentary bill.”
His remarks came after Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi announced that the country is at present producing nearly half a kilo of uranium enriched to the 20% purity level, meantime, saying that Tehran’s steps to reduce nuclear deal undertakings after the West’s disloyalties can all be backtracked.
“Based on the latest news I have, they (the Iranian scientists at nuclear installations) are producing 20 grams (of 20% enriched uranium) every hour; meaning that practically, we are producing half a kilo every day,” Salehi said in an interview with the Persian-language Khamenei.ir website released last month.
“We produce and store this 20% (enriched uranium) and if they return to the nuclear deal, we will return to our undertakings too,” he added.
Asked about the recent bill approved by the parliament to adopt strategic measures to remove sanctions against Iran, Salehi said that the AEOI is required to implement it.
“It is a reality and both the government and the AEOI have declared that they do not have any technical problems with implementation of the parliament’s bill and we launched 20% enrichment within 24 hours,” he said.
Salehi also underlined the need for Washington to remove all sanctions against Iran, specially those which prevent the country’s oil sales and banking transactions.
Iranian legislators had in January praised the AEOI for restarting enrichment of uranium at 20-percent purity level, and called for the full implementation of the recent parliamentarian law to counter the illegal US sanctions against the country.
In a statement, 190 legislators expressed their support for the AEOI’s resumption of 20% uranium enrichment and urged the body to fully and precisely implement the law ratified as a counteractive move to the sanctions illegally imposed on the country, especially those by the United States.
The lawmakers said the parliament approved the ‘Strategic Counteractive Plan for Lifting Sanctions and Safeguarding Rights of Iranian People’ to highlight Iran’s legitimate right to use peaceful nuclear technology and the importance of lifting all cruel sanctions against the country.
The Iranian parliamentarians in a meeting on December 1, 2020 ratified the generalities of a bill to adopt strategic measures to remove sanctions against the country and defend the nation’s interests.
The lawmakers, in November, had given the green light to the single-urgency of the strategic motion, but the plan turned into a double-urgency on Sunday after the assassination of the Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh's car was targeted by an explosion and machinegun fire in Damavand's Absard 40 kilometers to the East of Tehran on Friday November 27, 2020.
Under the bill, the AEOI is required to start in two months after the approval of the present bill to produce at least 120 kg of 20%-enriched uranium annually at Fordow nuclear site and store it inside the country, increase the enrichment capacity and production of enriched uranium to at least 500 kg per month, start the installation of centrifuges, gas injection, enrichment, and storage of materials up to proper purity levels within 3 months, via at least 1000 IR-2m centrifuges in the underground part of Shahid Ahmadi Roshan facility in Natanz, transfer any enrichment, research, and development operations of IR-6 centrifuges to the nuclear site of Shahid Ali Mohammadi in Fordow, and start enrichment operation via at least 164 centrifuges and expand it to 1000 by the end of 20 March 2021 (end of the Iranian calendar year) and return the 40 megawatts Arak heavy water reactor to its pre-JCPOA condition by reviving the heart (calandria) of the reactor within 4 months from the date of the adoption of this law.
Also, the government is required to suspend the nuclear deal-based regulatory access under the Additional Protocol and beyond within 2 months after the adoption of the law based on the articles 36 and 37 of the nuclear deal.
Iran signed the JCPOA with six world states — namely the US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia, and China — in 2015.
Trump, a stern critic of the historic deal, unilaterally pulled Washington out of the JCPOA in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism in an attempt to strangle the Iranian oil trade, but to no avail since its "so-called maximum pressure policy" has failed to push Tehran to the negotiating table.
In response to the US’ unilateral move, Tehran has so far rowed back on its nuclear commitments four times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, but stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe finds practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.
Tehran has particularly been disappointed with failure of the three European signatories to the JCPOA -- Britain, France and Germany -- to protect its business interests under the deal after the US' withdrawal.
On January 5, 2020, Iran took a final step in reducing its commitments, and said it would no longer observe any operational limitations on its nuclear industry, whether concerning the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the volume of stockpiled uranium or research and development.
Meantime, Biden has recently said in a CNN article that he wants a renegotiation of the contents of the deal before he agrees to rejoin the agreement.
“I will offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal's provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern,” he wrote, mentioning that he wants changes to the contents of the nuclear deal and guarantees from Tehran that it would be open for compromise to strike multiple deals over its missile and regional powers as well as a number of other issues that have been the bones of contention between the two sides in the last four decades.
In response, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had stressed that the US has violated the nuclear deal and is in no position to ask for any conditions for its return to the JCPOA, adding that it's Tehran that has its own terms to allow the US back into the internationally endorsed agreement.
The foreign minister has reiterated time and again that Tehran would not change even a single word of the agreement, and cautioned the US that it needs to pay reparations for the damage it has inflicted on Iran through its retreat from the nuclear agreement and give enough insurances that it would not go for initiating the trigger mechanism again before it could get back to the deal.
In relevant remarks earlier this month, Kamalvandi said his country enjoys the capability to produce 120 kg of uranium with 20% purity in 8 months, that's 4 months faster than the one-year period required by a recent parliament approval.