Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Chief Ali Akbar Salehi has announced steps to enrich uranium by 20 percent in a new challenge to the nuclear deal. The move came in response to a planned US-sponsored international summit in Poland next month, on the Middle East, with a special focus on Iran.
In parallel, Iran’s foreign ministry summoned Poland’s charge d’affaires in Tehran to protest at the country jointly hosting the global summit with the United States. Reuters said that IRNA quoted a foreign ministry official as saying that Tehran saw the decision to host the meeting as a “hostile act against Iran” and warned that it could reciprocate.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday that the summit, which would be held in Warsaw on Feb. 13-14, would focus on stability and security in the Middle East, including the “important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence,” according to Reuters.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press (AP) quoted Salehi as saying that Iran has begun “preliminary activities for designing” a modern process for 20-percent uranium enrichment.
According to AP, Salehi’s comments to state television seemed to be aimed at telling the world Iran would slowly restart its program. If it chooses, it could resume mass enrichment at its main facility in the central Iranian town of Natanz.
“Preliminary activities for designing modern 20 percent (enriched uranium) fuel have begun,” state TV quoted Salehi as saying.
The past few days have witnessed a rising dispute between Tehran and Washington after a US warning of a violation of Security Council Resolution 2231. The US warned Iran against firing rockets into space and using intercontinental ballistic missile technology, after Tehran said it could put two satellites into orbit in the coming weeks.
The French Foreign Ministry also issued a statement, warning Iran against violating resolution 2231 if it launches rockets into space.