Iran needs only 5 days to enrich Uranium if US quits nuclear deal

Tehran: Iran can resume high-level uranium enrichment within five days if the United States tears up the nuclear deal, the head of its Atomic Energy Organisation said Tuesday.

“If we make a determination, at most in five days we can start 20 percent enrichment in Fordo (nuclear plant),” said Ali Akbar Salehi in an interview with state broadcaster IRIB.

“Of course we would not like such a thing to happen as we made a lot of effort to achieve the JCPOA (nuclear deal),” he added.

“Our biggest priority is to maintain the JCPOA, but of course not at any price.”

It may be noted that the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers saw sanctions eased in exchange for curbs to Iran’s nuclear programme that included a ban on the high-level enrichment of uranium — 20 percent or more — a process which would take Iran close to the level needed for a nuclear weapon.

Read also: Iran can’t hold ‘world hostage’ with nuclear deal: Nikki Haley

In the recent past, US President Donald Trump repeatedly threatened to tear up the nuclear deal during his campaign, and it has come under mounting pressure after Tehran carried out missile tests and Washington imposed new sanctions — with each accusing the other of violating the spirit of the agreement. However, Salehi said that scrapping the nuclear deal would backfire on Washington in its efforts to tackle North Korea’s atomic programme.

He said, “If they call off the JCPOA, North Korea will say you are not committed to your pledges”. “The credibility of the US will fall apart and the question will be raised as to why they committed themselves and then violated their commitments”, he added.

Under the deal, Iran is allowed to enrich uranium to low levels of 3.5 percent, which can be used to power reactors.

At 20-percent, uranium can be used for nuclear medicines, but crucially leaves only a small amount of work to get to the 90-percent level needed for a nuclear weapon. For this reason, when in February 2010 Iran began enriching to 20 percent alarm bells rang, since it dramatically shortened the time needed to produce a bomb’s worth of weapons-grade uranium.

Iran denied seeking a nuclear weapon, but the international community imposed heavy sanctions that were only eased with the 2015 deal with Britain, France, Germany, China, the United States and the European Union.

Hassan Rouhani

In response to the increasing US sanctions on Iran, Hassan Rouhani, Iranian President warned that the country could pull out of a nuclear agreement signed with the world’s major powers within hours and could ramp up nuclear program.

He added the new “rulers” of the US should know that the “failed experience of sanctions” brought their previous administrations to the negotiating table.

Rouhani also criticized US President Donald Trump for threatening to break the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

According to Rouhani, the International Atomic Energy Agency has acknowledged in seven reports that Iran was complying with the agreement.

“Iran has remained and will remain committed to the deal though any breach of promise by other parties will receive appropriate responses,” the President added.

It may be mentioned that at the time of the deal, administration of Obama and independent experts said that Iran needs at least one year after abandoning the agreement to build a bomb. However, before the deal was signed, they said that Iran needs few months to make a bomb.

According to the news published in Al Jazeera, now, US Ambassador to United Nation, Nikki Haley to visit Vienna in to find out whether Iran is in compliance with nuclear deal.

As per analysts, breaking the deal would the economic grain in risk, Al Jazeera reported.

With inputs from AFP/IANS