Iran welcomes ‘more than doubled’ nuclear enrichment despite international backlash

Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), announced Saturday that the Persian Gulf nation’s uranium enrichment capacity has “more than doubled” despite ongoing international concerns about the country’s nuclear build-up.

Eslami said during a meeting with Iranian parliamentarians that Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity has increased as a result of the Strategic Action Plan passed by Parliament in 2020, Islamic Republic of News Agency reported.

The AIA chief praised Parliament for passing the law. He said it helped protect Iran’s national interests and increased uranium enrichment to levels twice the total capacity since Iran’s nuclear industry began, according to Tasnim news agency.

Iran welcomes
Above, a picture taken on Nov. 10, 2019 shows an Iranian flag at Iran’s Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant during an official ceremony marking the start of work on a second reactor at the plant. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami, announced on Saturday that his country’s nuclear enrichment capacity had “more than doubled” despite international concerns that the country was expanding its capacity.
Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images

The Iranian official said that the energy produced by the nuclear power plants has benefited the country economically, reduced fossil fuel consumption and addressed environmental problems.

According to Eslami, expanding its nuclear capacity in Iran would also reportedly help other sectors such as agriculture and medicine. The Iranian official had previously announced in October that Iran’s nuclear power generation capacity is expected to reach 10,000 megawatts without depending on help from other countries.

However, Iran has received significant backlash for its nuclear ambitions. In October, Robert Malley, the State Department’s special envoy to Iran, discussed the US approach to Iran and its nuclear capabilities at an event organized by the Carnegie Endowment. Malley said the US would continue to use diplomatic means to prevent Iran’s nuclear buildup.

Still, Malley also said at the time that the US would not rule out “a military option, if necessary” to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

“There is nothing now that we are not doing because we are thinking about the potential of a potential nuclear deal in the future,” Malley added, according to CNN’s Jennifer Hansler. “We don’t tie our hands over this hope that one day there will be a deal.”

Meanwhile, new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday that Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons “threatens the whole world.”

He claimed it was important to continue preventing Iran from expanding its nuclear capabilities “to ensure the peace of our region, the peace of the world.” He also said that Arab leaders have begun to change the way they view Israel “not as their enemy but as their indispensable ally in containing Iranian aggression.”

The US helped create the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015 along with China, France, Russia, the UK, Germany and the European Union. in exchange for sanctions relief and international investment.

Although the deal was confirmed in July 2015, former President Donald Trump withdrew the US from this deal in May 2018. When Trump authorized the assassination of Iranian general Qassam Soleimani in January 2020, Tehran said it would no longer comply with the JCPOA. But the country was more open to renegotiations after President Joe Biden took office.

However, according to Malley’s October comments, since “late August, early September” there has been “no movement” regarding US rejoining the deal. He said the US would not focus too much on it as little progress was being made.

“Nothing is happening in the nuclear deal, so we’re not going to waste our time, wasting our time if nothing’s going to happen,” Malley said at the time.

news week reached out to the White House and Sahar Nowrouzzadeh, a fellow on the Project on Managing the Atom at Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, for comment. Iran welcomes ‘more than doubled’ nuclear enrichment despite international backlash

Rick Schindler

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