Iran has announced Monday that it will produce at least 4.5% enriched uranium, beyond the limit allowed by the nuclear deal reached in Vienna in 2015, and warned Europeans against any possible reaction. to aggravate the situation. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that Iran has begun to enrich uranium to a degree greater than that allowed by the agreement.
Telephone interview between Trump and Macron
The European Union called on Iran to "stop and revert to its activities that are contrary to the commitments made under the agreement", stressing that it was "very concerned". US President Donald Trump is maintained on the phone with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who sends his diplomatic adviser to Tehran to work on a "de-escalation". The two men "discussed ongoing efforts to ensure that Iran does not acquire nuclear weapons and to end Iran's destabilizing behavior in the Middle East," according to the White House.
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Quoted by the semi-official Isna agency, the spokesman of the Iranian Organization for Atomic Energy (OIEA), Behrouz Kamalvandi, announced earlier that "the degree of purity" of enriched uranium produced by the Iran now reached "4.5%". On Sunday, Tehran announced that it had begun to enrich uranium to a degree higher than the 3.67% limit imposed by the Vienna agreement.
5% needed for "peaceful nuclear activities" of Iran?
According to Ali Akbar Velayati, adviser to the Iranian Supreme Leader, the country's needs for its "peaceful (nuclear) activities", namely the fuel supply of its atomic power plant, correspond to 5% enriched uranium. . This level remains far from the 90% needed to consider the manufacture of an atomic bomb. But the Iranian decision further threatens the Vienna agreement, weakened since Washington withdrew in May 2018 before reinstating economic sanctions against Tehran.
In response to the US withdrawal, Iran announced on May 8 that it was beginning to free itself from certain commitments in order to force the remaining parties to the agreement (Germany, China, France, the United Kingdom and Russia) to to help circumvent American sanctions. These deprive Iran of the economic benefits it expected from the pact, by which it agreed to drastically reduce its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of some of the international sanctions that were suffocating it.
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On Monday, Foreign Affairs spokesman Abbas Mousavi sent a warning to Paris, London and Berlin. If these three capitals "were to behave in (…) unexpected ways, then we would skip all the next steps (from the commitment reduction plan announced in May) and we would implement the last one," he said. , without specifying the nature of this last step. Tehran had given Sunday 60 days to the partners of the agreement to respond to his requests on pain of Iran to be freed from other commitments. After 60 days, "all options" will be on the table, Abbas Mousavi said, including an exit from the agreement and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif again accused Washington on Monday of "economic terrorism", warning that sanctions would fail to force Iran to negotiate a new deal. "Team B sold @realDonaldTrump the crazy idea that killing the JCPOA (the nuclear deal) by using economic terrorism would pave the way for a better deal," he said on Twitter. Javad Zarif calls "Team B" the one he thinks was formed by US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, all in favor of a hard line against Iran.
But "as it is increasingly clear that there will be no better deal, they are strangely urging Iran to be fully compliant." There is a way out, but not with the team B at the controls, "he added. Late in the afternoon, an IAEA spokesman confirmed in a statement that Agency inspectors had "verified on July 8 that Iran is enriching uranium beyond 3.67 % ".
"What Europe can do now is engage in dialogue with Tehran, get Iranian concessions, take them to Washington and get reconciliation there too," said Sanal Vakil of Chatham House think tank. . The head of the American diplomacy Mike Pompeo having promised Sunday to Iran "more isolation and sanctions", the European margin of maneuver seems a priori narrow.
In Beijing, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said the "maximum pressure" of the United States on Iran was "the source of the Iranian nuclear crisis". Russia, though Tehran's ally, has called for "not to give in to emotion" and to respect "the essential provisions" of the agreement despite US pressure.