Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s Political Deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said today that the Iran was moving based on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action to increase its uranium enrichment levels to 20% and that it did not spell out “the death of the JCPOA”.
Speaking to the state-run IRNA News Agency, Araghchi emphasized that the 20% enrichment was carried out on orders of the Parliament.
Following the Iranian government’s decision to increase uranium enrichment to 20%, the European Union’s foreign policy spokesman, Peter Stano said that Iran’s actions “will have serious implications when it comes to nuclear nonproliferation.”
The European Union says it will redouble its efforts to save the Iran nuclear agreement despite what it calls Tehran’s “important breach” of commitments made in the 2015 deal by starting to enrich uranium to new levels.
Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of its plans to increase enrichment to 20% last week.
The regime began enriching uranium to levels unseen since its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Increasing enrichment at its underground Fordow site puts Tehran a technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.
Araghchi said that the “Europeans should thank Iran” and stop criticizing the Iranian Parliament’s decision to proceed to 20% enrichment. He added that Europeans were incompetent in their commitments to the JCPOA because Iran was not able to benefit from the deal, and that they should rectify their own deviations.
“In 2010 we had reached 20% enrichment to supply fuel for Tehran’s reactor,” Aragchi said. He added that the fuel production had been met years ago but was stopped to meet the JCPOA deal.
Aragchi also said that in the JCPOA negotiations, “20% enrichment was a very big step towards acquiring a nuclear weapon in their view, but in our view, this was not the case.”
In reference to the Fordow site buried inside a mountain, the spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Agency Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi told state TV yesterday, “On Sunday, 4.5% (enriched uranium) was transferred to Fordow from Natanz, and the enrichment process began at 7 a.m. and was completed at midnight, Monday.”
“We don’t have an urgent need for the 20% enriched uranium but why shouldn’t we add it to our reserves?” Kamalvandi stressed.
The AEOI spokesperson also said Iran “could easily enrich to over 20%” adding that they were “considering” this.
Aside from getting closer to building a bomb which poses a serious threat to its regional adversaries, the regime spends billions on enriching uranium it does not have an “urgent need for”.
This is while sixty million Iranians live under the line of poverty due to the regime’s systematic lack of supervision over the economy, an Iranian economist said. Speaking to Tabnak, a website affiliated with the regime, Ibrahim Razaghi said “the most important threat to Iran was extreme poverty, widespread unemployment, the inability of many people to pay their rent, and that the rich were getting richer.”
“There are currently 30 million unemployed people and 60 million people live below the poverty line,” he said adding that the economic situation was “very bad.”
According to state-run media, more than 19 million Iranians live in 3,000 slums and make up the 35% of Iran’s urban population.