Iran Threatens New Enrichment if Sanctions Pass

January 25, 2015  

As yet another round of talks between Western countries and Iran on the latter country’s scaling back its uranium enrichment program wrapped up with no progress last week, Iran announced that it would seek to enrich uranium to even greater levels.

Iranian parliamentarians said over the weekend they would draft a new law to upgrade enrichment efforts and acquire advanced centriuges.

Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, chairman of Iran’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said that “this bill will allow the government to continue enrichment, using new generation centrifuges. The parliament’s nuclear committee is working on the technical issues and details of this draft.”

A bill by Democratic Senator Robert Menendez and Republican Senator Mark Kirk would impose new sanctions on Iran if a nuclear deal is not reached by March, a timetable that has already been extended past the original November deadline.  

Under an interim deal, Iran’s stock of fissile material has been diluted from 20 percent enriched uranium to five percent in exchange for limited sanctions relief. But Iran warned Friday that that deal would be thrown out if the US tried to pass new sanctions.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that “a sanctions bill by the U.S. Congress will kill the Joint Plan of Action that we adopted last year in Geneva,” and that Iran would “retaliate” by stepping up its enrichment efforts.”

On Thursday, a group of top European diplomats spoke out against imposing new sanctions on Iran at this time, calling for talks between Western powers and the Islamic Republic to be given an opportunity to succeed.

“While many Iranians know how much they stand to gain by overcoming isolation and engaging with the world, there are also those in Tehran who oppose any nuclear deal. We should not give them new arguments. New sanctions at this moment might also fracture the international coalition that has made sanctions so effective so far. Rather than strengthening our negotiating position, new sanctions legislation at this point would set us back,” wrote the diplomats.

Nuclear negotiators of Iran and the P5+1 countries – Russia, China, France, Britain, the US, plus Germany – wrapped up their second round of talks concerning Tehran’s nuclear program last Sunday. They agreed to resume their discussions next month.

The talks, chaired by EU official Helga Schmid, are being held with the hope of achieving further progress towards a long-term comprehensive solution on the nuclear issue.

This was the second round of discussions since Tehran and the P5+1 group failed to work out a permanent nuclear deal by last November’s deadline. The sides decided to extend their talks for seven more months until July 1.

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