TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club(YJC)_Speaking in an interview on Thursday, Behrouz Kamalvandi said, “With the new machines, which have been installed after taking the third step [to reduce Iran's commitments under the deal], 2,600 SWU (separative work units) have been added to the country’s enrichment capacity.”
The nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was reached in Vienna in July 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 group of states -- the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany. It lifted nuclear-related sanctions against Tehran, which, in turn, voluntarily changed some aspects of its nuclear energy program.
The US, however, left the accord last May and reinstated its unilateral sanctions against Iran. The European deal partners, meanwhile, have bowed to Washington’s pressure, failing to honor their contractual obligations to protect Iran’s economy in the face of America’s “toughest-ever” bans.
In response, Iran initiated a first step in reducing its obligations under the JCPOA this May by increasing its enriched uranium stockpile to beyond the 300-kilogram limit set by the JCPOA.
The second and third steps followed after Washington insisted on its violations of the JCPOA, and the European signatories sustained their non-commitment. In the second step, Tehran began enriching uranium to purity rates beyond the JCPOA-limit of 3.76 percent. The third bout had the country start up advanced centrifuges to boost its stockpile of enriched uranium and activate 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges for research and development purposes.
On Tuesday, President Hassan Rouhani announced the fourth step, saying that Tehran would begin to inject uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into centrifuges at its Fordow enrichment facility on Wednesday, as a third 60-day deadline for the European co-signatories to fulfill their side of the deal expired. Located in central Iran, Fordow houses 1,044 centrifuges.
Elsewhere in his Thursday remarks, the AEOI official added, “A total of 15 new machines were installed after the third step, which increased our total nuclear production capacity to 2,600 SWU. Today, the work at Fordow has been finished and four more cascades will be added… to increase our total capacity by about 700 SWU. When the work is totally done, our overall [enrichment] capacity will stand at about 9,500 SWU, which is the level we held before singing the JCPOA.”
“Of course, our pre-JCPOA [enrichment] capacity was 1,000 SWU more [than this]. But the difference is that we have many advanced machines at our disposal. The farther we go, the more we can harvest from these machines. The knowledge that we receive too will help us enhance the quality and functionality of the machines,” Kamalvandi added.
IAEA Board meeting on Iran
The spokesperson also commented on an underway meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the Austrian capital. That session, he said, was actually being held in preparation for a main gathering, which is due on Friday, to address the implementation of the IAEA’s Safeguards Agreement in Iran.
He said such meetings take place from time to time to examine matters concerning the country and the safeguards.
Iran's Ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharib-Abadi would partake in Friday’s session to outline Iran’s position, Kamalvandi remarked.
US calls for 'serious steps' to mount pressure on Iran
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday called for "serious steps" to be taken against Iran, after the Islamic Republic resumed uranium enrichment at Fordow plant.