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Iran to Develop Centrifuges for Faster Uranium Enrichment

TEHRAN – Iran said it would take another step in the 2015 nuclear deal by starting to develop centrifuges to accelerate its uranium enrichment, but it also gave the European powers two more months to try to save the multilateral pact.
Moreover, the United States refused to soften its economic sanctions against Iran, imposed new ones aimed at stifling the smuggling of Iranian oil, and rejected, without excluding, a French plan to grant Tehran line of credit of $15 billion.
Manoeuvres suggest that Iran, the United States, and the major European powers leave the door open for diplomacy to try to resolve a dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, even as they stick largely to part to rooted positions.
Frictions have intensified since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 international agreement in which Iran agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions.
Washington has since renewed and strengthened its sanctions, reducing by more than 80% the sales of Iranian crude oil.
Trump again said he was open to meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, but said he had no intention of easing sanctions.
“This is not the case,” he said. “It will not happen.”
In a televised address on Wednesday evening, Rouhani said Iran will begin Friday to develop centrifuges to accelerate the enrichment of uranium, which can produce fuel for power plants or atomic bombs, as the next step in the reducing its nuclear commitments.
Under the agreement, Iran was allowed to keep limited quantities of first-generation centrifuges in two nuclear power plants. The successful development of more advanced centrifuges would enable it to produce materials for a potential nuclear bomb many times faster.
“Starting Friday, we will see research and development on different types of centrifuges and new centrifuges, as well as all that is needed to enrich uranium in an accelerated way,” said Rouhani.
“All the limitations on our research and development will be lifted on Friday.”
Iran says it is only enriching uranium for nuclear power plants, but the United States has long suspected that the program ultimately aims to produce weapons.
Since Washington’s withdrawal from the pact, Tehran has taken two further steps against the deal, although Iran says it still wants to save the deal.
Rouhani had threatened to take further action before September 5, unless France and the other European signatories of the pact do more to protect Iran from the impact of US criminal sanctions, which have significantly reduced oil sales from Iran abroad.
“It is unlikely that we will achieve a result with Europe by today or tomorrow … Europe will have two months to fulfil its commitments,” said Rouhani, according to state television.
But Rouhani also said the new Iranian measures would be “peaceful, under the surveillance of US nuclear surveillance and reversible” if the European powers keep their promises.
A French diplomatic source lamented the planned development of centrifugation by Iran.
“It’s not useful,” said the source. “We knew it would not be … a bed of roses,” he said, adding that France would continue to seek a solution despite the cold reception of the United States.
The Iranian officials, meanwhile, seemed to welcome a French proposal to save the pact by offering Iran about $15 billion in credit lines until the end of the year if Tehran returned to full compliance.
The United States supported this idea but did not categorically reject it.
“We have taken sanctions today; we will have other sanctions coming in. We can not say more clearly that we are engaged in this campaign of maximum pressure and that we are not seeking to grant exceptions or derogations,” Brian Hook, United States Special Representative for Iran, told reporters.
On Wednesday, Washington blacklisted a network of companies, ships and people believed to be ruled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, which would provide Syria with oil worth several hundred dollars millions of dollars.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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