Iran plans to boost uranium enrichment capacity, puts pressure on EU

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French President Emmanuel Macron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attend a joint news conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 5, 2018.

"What we are doing does not violate the (2015 nuclear) agreement", he said, noting that this was just the start of the production process and "does not mean that we will start assembling the centrifuges".

The remaining parties - Britain, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation - have vowed to stay in the accord but many of their companies have already started to wind down Iranian operations.

Iran has begun preparations to boost its uranium enrichment capacity, its nuclear chief said on Tuesday, adding to pressure on European powers trying to save a nuclear accord with Tehran in peril after a USA withdrawal.

"If conditions allow, maybe tomorrow night at Natanz (plant), we can announce the opening of the centre for production of new centrifuges", said Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, according to conservative news agency Fars.

"It is quite possible they will resume enrichment capacity and research and development of advanced centrifuges to show the Europeans and the world that they are serious".

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Benjamin Netanyahu was in Paris for talks with President Emmanuel Macron as part of a tour to persuade the European signatories - Britain, France and Germany - to follow Washington's lead in pursuing a tough stance on Iran after it pulled out of the accord and reimposed sanctions on Tehran. "I hope there will never be a need to go back to that situation".

"If the Iranians don't surrender now, and try to return" to unsupervised uranium enrichment, "there should be a clear statement by the President of the United States and all of the Western coalition", Katz told Israeli public broadcaster Kan, adding that "the Arabs and Israel surely would be there too".

Salehi said Iran could not support a "flawed" nuclear deal and could not obey new restrictions in the agreement while facing new sanctions.

While noting that Iran had stepped up the pressure with its latest announcement, Macron also pointed blame in the direction of US President Donald Trump for unilaterally pulling out of the hard-fought 2015 deal created to stop Tehran getting a nuclear bomb.

European governments have been scrambling to protect their businesses from renewed United States sanctions in order to keep Iran in the deal.

US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the accord last month, despite stern global warnings from the other signatories, which consider it to be pivotal to regional and worldwide peace and security.

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Before the deal was reached, Tehran enriched uranium to up to 20 percent purity.

He also repeated Iran's position that its nuclear programme was for civilian purposes only.

Chris Mesorele, Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution claimed Israel and Iran "were on a collision course even without the JCPOA falling apart".

But the global reach of the US financial system, forcing companies to choose between two irreconcilable options - selling to Iran or to the vast USA market - is driving home the limits of European efforts to create financial mechanisms that could shield revived trade with Tehran. Yesterday, he said how he would do this, by unlimited enrichment in order to produce an arsenal of nuclear bombs.

The announcement came a day after Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei ordered the AOEI to make preparations for enrichment of uranium up to a level of 190,000SWU (separative work unit) without any delay in case of a potential collapse of the Iran deal.

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