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Nuclear Official Says Iran Capable Of 60-Percent Enrichment

A view of the entrance of the nuclear power plant of Natanz, November 6, 2019

The spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi says Iran is capable of Uranium enrichment at up to 60 percent, IRGC-linked Tasnim news agency quoted him as saying on Saturday November 9.

Kamalvandi told reporters at a news conference on Saturday that Iran can enrich Uranium at 5 percent, 20 percent or 60 percent.

He added this is going to be verified by the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA inspectors at Iran Fordow nuclear site near Qom on Sunday. Kamalvandi said that "Sunday will be an important day for Iran's nuclear industry."

Kamalvandi further reiterated that gas will be injected in 1044 centrifuges at Fordow as the 4th step in Tehran's reduction of its nuclear commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal will world powers. Based on the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) Fordow was supposed to be free from nuclear material for 15 years, said Kamalvandi.

While Iran calls its actions “reduction in commitments”, others consider it violations of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA.

Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behruz Kamalvandi, undated.
Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behruz Kamalvandi, undated.

He explained that "Fordow has two wings. Centrifuges have been dismantled at one of them, but the centrifuges at the other wing are no longer first generation machines," adding that "Certainly there will be advanced machines."

Iran has previously said that the new generation of centrifuges launched in Fordow, are capable of enriching more uranium at higher grades. World powers and Iran's neighbors and regional players such as Israel are worried about Iran's capability to produce weapons grade uranium and Israel has said that it will do everything to prevent Iran's access to nuclear weapons.

Referring to Iranian officials denying an IAEA inspector entry to Natanz nuclear site last week, Kamalvandi said: "We had to annul her credentials as she was carrying nuclear-contaminated material into the plant. He said Iran has already “satisfactory explanations” to the members of the IAEA board of governors, except the representatives for the United States, Israel and a few other countries.

He said Iran is prepared to present a video to the IAEA to prove its case, adding that Iran has used its rights, but the United States and Israel wanted to take advantage of Iran's action in expelling the inspector.

Kamalvandi said there are limitations on the inspector's immunity and the IAEA is aware of those limitations.

Meanwhile, he said that the fourth step is not the last step in reducing Iran's commitments under the JCPOA and Tehran might decide to take still further steps in this direction if Europe cannot guarantee that Tehran will benefit from the nuclear deal. However, he hoped that taking more steps would not be necessary.

Iran has repeatedly presented its escalating disengagement from JCPOA as a response to Europe refusing to circumvent U.S. sanctions and trade with Iran.

Critics say while Iran is claiming to be returning to the basic level of its commitments, it ignores the fact the new centrifuges it is using are more powerful than the first-generation machines and can produce more enriched uranium at unusually higher grades beyond the requirements of non-military nuclear projects.

Kamalvandi acknowledged in the news conference on Saturday that Iran is using 15 different types of advanced machines including the brand new highly productive IR8 and IR9 centrifuges.

Elsewhere during the news conference Kamalvandi touched upon the issue of traces of radioactive material detected at Torghouzabad south of Tehran and tried to downplay the finding. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has highlighted the site as a secret nuclear warehouse.

He said it was a "small incident," and that the site in Torghouzabad "belonged to the private sector where anything can happen!"

Meanwhile, Kamalvandi assured reporters that Europeans owe Iran in terms of their unfulfilled commitments and they ae not in a position to give up nuclear cooperation with Iran. "They are also not in a position to take Iran's case to the UN Security Council," he claimed.

Asked about the possibility of Iran leaving the nuclear accord, Kamalvandi said: "What is important is the country's interests not the JCPOA," adding that Iran might leave the JCPOA if the country's interests call for such an action."