In an interview with AP;

Iran nuclear chief hopes deal will survive

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Tehran (ISNA) - Iran’s nuclear chief said he hopes Tehran’s landmark atomic deal with world powers will survive, warning the Islamic Republic’s program stands ready to build advanced centrifuges and further enrich uranium.

In an exclusive interview with The Associated Press, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran stressed Tehran would be guided by “prudence and wisdom” when weighing whether to abandon the deal if European nations fail to protect it from Trump.

“Yes, we have our problems. Yes, the sanctions have caused some problems for us. But if a nation decides to enjoy political independence, it will have to pay the price,” Salehi said. “If Iran decides today to go back to what it was before, the lackey of the United States, the situation would” be different.

Salehi spoke to the AP on Tuesday about Iran’s efforts to build a new facility at Natanz that will produce more-advanced centrifuges, which enrich uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas.

“I think (Trump) is on the loser’s side because he is pursuing the logic of power,” Salehi added. “He thinks that he can, you know, continue for some time but certainly I do not think he will benefit from this withdrawal, certainly not.”

The new facility will allow Iran to build versions called the IR-2M, IR-4 and IR-6. The IR-2M and the IR-4 can enrich uranium five times faster than an IR-1, while the IR-6 can do it 10 times faster, Salehi said.

“This does not mean that we are going to produce these centrifuges now. This is just a preparation,” he said. “In case Iran decides to start producing in mass production such centrifuges, (we) would be ready for that.”

Salehi suggested that if the nuclear deal fell apart, Iran would react in stages. He suggested one step may be uranium enrichment going to “20 percent because this is our need.” He also suggested Iran could increase its stockpile of enriched uranium.

“If we have to go back and withdraw from the nuclear deal, we certainly do not go back to where we were before,” Salehi said. “We will be standing on a much, much higher position.”

A string of bombings, blamed on Israel, targeted a number of scientists beginning in 2010.

“I hope that they will not commit a similar mistake again because the consequences would be, I think, harsh,” Salehi warned.

While the U.N. repeatedly has verified Iran’s compliance with the deal, Trump withdrew the U.S. from it.

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