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Iran says plan to boost uranium enrichment capacity launched

TEHRAN: Iran said it had launched a plan to boost uranium enrichment capacity with new centrifuges, raising the pressure on European diplomats scrambling to rescue a crumbling nuclear deal after Washington pulled out.

“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.

 

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

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed it had received a letter from Iran, which Salehi said was submitted on Monday and outlined Tehran’s plans.

Under the 2015 nuclear agreement that Iran signed with world powers, it has the right to build and test certain centrifuges, though detailed restrictions exist for the first 10 years on the types and quantities of the machines.

Salehi also emphasised that these moves “do not mean the negotiations (with Europe) have failed.”

European governments have been trying to salvage the nuclear deal since the United States announced its withdrawal last month and said it would re-impose sanctions on foreign companies working in the Islamic republic by November.