If the nation needs it, Iran could raise its uranium enrichment to a purity of 60%, Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei said, raising the stakes in a standoff with the West over the 2015 nuclear deal for the region.
“Iran will act to whatever level is necessary. For instance, for nuclear advancement, we might even increase it to 60 percent.”
However, Khamenei emphasized that this does not mean that Iran is after nuclear weapons, saying that the West and Israel both know this, but want to use the excuse to “extortion” Iran.
“If the Islamic republic had made the decision to achieve nuclear weapons, [Israel] and those bigger than that couldn’t stop it,” he said.
His comments come as European powers and the United States, which in 2018 rejected the nuclear agreement, disagree with Iran on how to revive it and lift sanctions imposed by former US President Donald Trump.
The nuclear deal limited Iran’s purity of uranium enrichment at 3.67%.
But one year after the US pulled out, Iran steadily scaled back its commitments, raising enrichment to 4.5 percent, among other items.
The parliament passed a law seeking 20 percent enrichment after top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated in November last year.
The legislation also obliges President Hassan Rouhani’s administration to restrict international nuclear inspections as of Tuesday.
Iran has been told by the semi-official Tasnim news agency that the application of the Additional Protocol authorizing the United Nations nuclear watchdog to carry out snap inspections at sites not announced by the agency would be terminated.
“As of midnight tonight [20:30 GMT], we will not have … commitments beyond safeguards. Necessary orders have been issued to the nuclear facilities,” Tasnim quoted Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s envoy at the International Atomic Energy Agency, as saying.