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Iran Officials Criticize EU, Defend Suspension of Commitments In Talks With IAEA Chief

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi met Acting Director General of IAEA Cornel Feruta in Tehran. September 8, 2019

The acting head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Cornel Feruta met with Iranian officials including Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Tehran today, Sunday September 8.

Meanwhile Iran's Security Chief Ali Shamkhani has reportedly called off his meeting with Feruta without an explanation.

Both Salehi and Zarif mainly discussed the reduction of Iran's commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in their meeting with the acting IAEA Chief.

Iran announced its third step in gradual reduction of its nuclear commitments on Friday.

While the IAEA said the visit was part of its "ongoing interactions" with Tehran, including "verification and monitoring in Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)," U.S. National Security Adviser has said that Feruta's visit aims at inspecting Tehran's secret nuclear activities.

John Bolton tweeted that the IAEA has reported that “#Iran may be concealing nuclear material and/or activities. We join with other @iaeaorg Board member states eager to get a full report as soon as possible.”

Bolton has not provided any details. So far, the international nuclear watchdog has periodically cleared Iran’s activities as being in accordance with the JCPOA.

Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said in the meeting with the acting head of IAEA on Sunday that "The JCPOA is not a one-way road. If it proves to be a one-way road, then Iran will take the necessary measures at the right time as it has done so in three steps so far."

Salehi was alluding to Iran's measures in exceeding uranium enrichment levels and the allowed by the JCPOA, as well as starting to use a new generation of faster and more productive enrichment centrifuges.

These measures, according to the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization's spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi has brought Iran very close to leaving the nuclear deal with the West all together.

"Under current circumstances, the Islamic Republic of Iran is capable of increasing its enriched uranium stockpile as well as its enrichment levels and that is not just limited to 20 percent," Kamalvandi said. "We are capable inside the country to increase the enrichment much more beyond that." Observers say a 20% enrichment only a short technical step away from producing weapons grade 90% enriched Uranium.

Meanwhile, During his meeting with Feruta, Salehi criticized the EU for not being able to follow the vacuum created in the nuclear deal after the U.S. pulled out of it in May 2018. He particularly criticized the EU spokesperson for saying that "The EU will remain committed to the JCPOA only as long as Iran remains committed to it." He asked: "The EU is committed to do what? Committed to break its promises?"

Feruta at the meeting said that the IAEA will remain impartial, independent and professional about the Iranian nuclear problem.

There was minimal news coming out of Zarif's meeting with the IAEA chief as of Sunday afternoon. Zarif reiterated that the measures Iran has taken to suspend its commitments to the JCPOA are within the boundaries of the accord and that Iran is not leaving the JCPOA.

In a related development, Ali Asghar Zarean, an assistant to nuclear chief Salehi told Tasnim news agency in Tehran that Iran is boosting its uranium enrichment speed and power, adding that nuclear officials await Khamenei's order to take more steps in this regard.

He said the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization operates based on Khamenei's order. "We have never trusted foreigners," he said.

With reporting by AFP and AP