By Tal Axelrod
April 10, 2021 – 09:40 AM EDT
Iran doubled down on its uranium enrichment program while unveiling a slate of advanced centrifuges at an underground nuclear plant on Saturday to mark its National Nuclear Technology Day.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in a statement touted the introduction of “133 national nuclear achievements and projects” at the underground Natanz facility during a video conference and said more centrifuges and other materials were being inaugurated at the country’s plant in Arak.
“I reiterate that all our nuclear activities are peaceful and for civilian purposes. As Leader [of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei] has repeatedly stated, in our religion, pursuing a weapon that can be a great danger to a large community is forbidden,” Rouhani said, according to state-owned Press TV.
• US raises concerns about Iran’s seriousness in nuclear talks
Saturday’s announcements appeared to mark new violations of the Obama-era nuclear deal.
Former President Trump in 2018 withdrew the U.S. from the pact, after which Iran broke the agreement’s limitations on its uranium enrichment.
Washington and Tehran are currently in the middle of indirect negotiations through European intermediaries in Vienna to try to come to an agreement on rejoining the deal. However, the sides have refused to budge over the first steps necessary for talks to move forward, with Iran insisting that U.S. sanctions be lifted first, while the U.S. maintains penalties will only be removed if the uranium enrichment limits are honored.