Iran Orders Reopening Nuclear Plant If Deal With EU Falls Apart
Iran’s atomic energy agency (AEOI) confirmed Wednesday that the government has ordered to reopen a nuclear plant that has been idle for nine years to be ready in case a nuclear deal with European leaders falls apart after the U.S. withdrawal. International Business Times reports in its article Iran Orders Reopening Nuclear Plant If Deal With EU Falls Apart that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ordered AEOI to resume operations in the nuclear plant for the first time in nine years in case the agreement breaks down.
AEOI said a plant for the production of UF6, the feedstock for centrifuge machines that enrich uranium, has been reopened. The agency also confirmed that a barrel of yellow cake (uranium ore) was delivered to the plant. The nuclear plant has been inactive since 2009 due to a lack of uranium ore. According to a statement from AEOI, posted on its website, Iran has imported a huge amount of yellow cake since the nuclear deal in 2015, and had also produced some domestically. Iran restricted its enrichment of uranium ore after signing a deal with former U.S. President Barack Obama, which restricted the country from enriching weapons-grade uranium.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has warned European nations including France, Germany and Britain that the time to save the 2015 agreement from collapse is running out. Mahmoud Vaezi, Rouhani’s chief of staff said Wednesday that the president had expressed Iran’s demands “very clearly."
In 2015, Iran agreed a long-term deal on its nuclear program, the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), with the U.S., U.K., France, China, Russia and Germany after years of tension over the Middle East nation's alleged efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.
As per the JCPOA, Iran’s uranium stockpile was reduced by 98 percent to 300kg (660lbs) and Iran would redesign its nuclear reactor so it could not produce any weapons-grade plutonium.
In May, President Donald Trump announced that he will withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, calling it “decaying and rotten."
“Today’s action sends a critical message: the United States no longer makes empty threats,” Trump announced in a televised interview, The Hill reported. “It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement."
“The Iran deal is defective at its core. If we do nothing, we know exactly what will happen,” he said adding that “any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States.”
“Our governments remain committed to ensuring the agreement is upheld, and will work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure this remains the case including through ensuring the continuing economic benefits to the Iranian people that are linked to the agreement,” U.K., France, and Germany said in a joint statement following Trump's statement.
Rouhani had warned that if the deal failed then the country’s uranium program will restart, Independent reported.