An official for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) threatened on Wednesday that his country will be ready to begin uranium enrichment that will go beyond the limitations set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) at its Fordo nuclear facility and install new equipment at its Natanz nuclear facility if the Iran nuclear deal fails.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the AEOI, reportedly told the IRIB-run Young Journalists’ Club (YJC) in Tehran, “Currently the Supreme Leader has ordered that the programs be carried out within the parameters of the nuclear deal. And when he gives the order we will announce the programs for operating outside of the nuclear deal for reviving Fordow.”
Last week, Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads the AEOI, told state television that a facility in the Natanz nuclear plant, meant to build advanced centrifuges, will be completed in a month and noted that Iran is prepared to increase its uranium-enrichment capacity.
“After the supreme leader’s order, we prepared this centre within 48 hours. We hope the facility to be completed in a month,” Salehi said.
Under the JCPOA, uranium enrichment research and development activities are permitted only at the Natanz facility but limited to 5,060 centrifuges for the next seven years. However, Salehi said that within ten months, Iran could reach 190,000 SWUs (separative work unit), or centrifuges, of uranium enrichment capacity at Natanz.
Both announcements appear to be the Iranian regime’s latest attempts to preserve what’s left of the JCPOA following President Donald Trump’s historic May 8 announcement that the United States has withdrawn from the deal.
Iran has turned to Russia and especially China to help save the nuclear deal.
In addition to his statements about upping his country’s uranium enrichment, Kamalvandi reportedly also said, “The West doesn’t criticize the Zionist regime and have even helped them,” referring to what is believed to be Israel’s nuclear power. “Without the help of the West and America this regime could never have obtained nuclear weapons.”
However, as Reuters notes, “Israel has never confirmed or denied that it has a nuclear arsenal.” The Times of Israel also notes that Israel “is widely believed to have a stockpile of at least 100 devices.”