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Nuke deal will survive, hopes Iran N-chief
September 12, 2018
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TEHRAN: Iran’s nuclear chief in an interview on Tuesday that he hopes the atomic deal between Tehran and world powers survives, but warns the programme will be in a stronger position than ever if not.

The remarks by Ali Akbar Salehi, who also serves as a vice president to Iran’s elected leader Hassan Rouhani, come as Iran tries to salvage an accord now challenged by President Donald Trump.

The American withdrawal from the deal and the return of US sanctions already has badly shaken Iran’s anemic economy, crashing its rial currency. Further sanctions coming in November threaten Iran’s oil industry, a major source of government funding, and will further pressure the relatively moderate Rouhani.

For his part, Salehi sought to contrast Iran’s behaviour, which includes abiding by the atomic accord, against “emotional moves and sensational moves.”

“I think (Trump) is on the loser’s side because he is pursuing the logic of power,” Salehi said during an interview in Tehran.

“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.”

Salehi spoke 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.

For now, the nuclear accord limits Iran to using a limited number of an older model, called IR-1s. The new facility will allow it to build advanced 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 per cent because this is our need.”  He also suggested Iran could increase its stockpile of enriched uranium.

Salehi heads the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, whose Tehran campus encompasses a nuclear research reactor donated to the country by the US in 1967 under the rule of the shah. But in the time since, Iran was convulsed by its 1979 Islamic Revolution and the subsequent takeover and hostage crisis at the US Embassy in Tehran.

Associated Press
 

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