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Iran Supreme Leader orders uranium enrichment resumption - blackmail or reality?!

Hamid Torabi Analysis 6 June 2018
Iran Supreme Leader orders uranium enrichment resumption - blackmail or reality?!

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has kicked off preparations for uranium enrichment, considered within the framework of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known as the Iran nuclear deal, AEOI President Ali-Akbar Salehi said.

The announcement came after Iran Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's order to produce 190,000 centrifuges for the AEOI on June 4. The start of works for the production of centrifuges comes under the framework of the JCPOA, Ali-Akbar Salehi said. He added that if the signatory countries to the nuclear deal do not keep their promises and if they do not remove sanctions, Tehran plans to have more advanced nuclear activities than agreed under the JCPOA.

He reiterated that Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful and in line with the principles of the International Atomic Energy Agency. U.S. President Donald Trump last month pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement with Iran, claiming that Iran was running a secret program to build nuclear weapons. The JCPOA was signed between Tehran and world's major powers China, Russia, France, the U.K., and U.S., plus Germany.

Addressing a ceremony marking the 29th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Supreme Leader focused on psychological pressure by Iran’s enemies and described Tehran’s nuclear activities as being a source of pride for Iran. The West puts pressure on Iran over the production of the 20-per cent enriched uranium, the Supreme Leader said, adding that Iran needed 20-per cent-enriched uranium for medical treatment purposes and wanted to procure it from other countries, but major powers that had the technology refused to give it to Iran. He said that young Iranian scientists managed to produce it by themselves. He also talked about Iran's missile power, reminding that Iran did not have any missiles to defend itself against Iraq during the war.

He further said neither the nation, nor the government would tolerate to be put under sanctions and "a nuclear siege". The Supreme Leader also ordered Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) to promptly prepare for upgrading the country's enrichment capacity to 190,000 SWU (Separative Work Unit). He emphasized that such arrangements should be made under the framework of the nuclear deal.

"The Atomic Energy Organization must immediately make necessary preparations for the 190,000 SWU under the JCPOA framework for now. Also some other arrangements that President Hassan Rouhani ordered needs to begin from tomorrow onwards," Ayatollah Khamenei said.

President Rouhani had earlier ordered the IAEO to work on propellers for nuclear-powered marine vessels in response to what Iran calls a U.S. violation of the landmark atomic deal with world powers.

"Today, our young people have managed to turn Iran into the first missile power of the region. The enemy knows that if it hits one, it will be hit 10 times," Khamenei said.

The Supreme Leader reiterated that Iran will continue its support for "resistance groups" - Iran's allies in the region including the Lebanese Hezbollah. He said that Iran will also support Palestinian groups against Israel. Khamenei strongly criticized those domestic groups who questioned Iran's regional policies, especially the ones who chanted "neither Gaza, nor Lebanon" in the mass protests that followed the disputed 2009 presidential elections.

Ayatollah Khamenei called on the people to have a high turnout in this year's Quds Day rally scheduled for June 8 across the country. Khamenei went on to lash out enemy plans to cause riot in the country. "They want to cause riot in the country. This is definitely their plan. Of course, they will regret it as it has been the case so far."

The Supreme Leader believes Iran enemies describe even minor displeasure with the government as a sign of a conflict an mispresent it. "In a city, in one corner of the country, some individuals might have a demand and hold a gathering. For instance, some laborers might be pursuing their demands. The people in a city might be pursuing their urban demands. Under such circumstances, the enemy hatches a plot and sends its infiltrators - or in fact thugs and small number of evil persons - to join such gatherings to turn the people's peaceful gathering into an act against security and cause riot to disgrace the country, the nation and the Islamic Republic's system," he said, calling on the people to remain vigilant against such "plots".

Khamenei also referred to ongoing talks between Iran and major European countries – Britain, France and Germany - on saving the 2015 nuclear deal following the US withdrawal from the agreement. He said Europeans have "a bad dream" for Iran that will not come true.

The Europeans expect the Iranian nation to tolerate and grapple with the sanctions, to give up their nuclear activity which is an absolute requirement for the future of the country and also to continue with the restrictions that have been imposed on Iran. I would tell these governments that this bad dream will not come true."

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also called on young Arab Muslims to stand against the US government and the "usurper Zionist regime", he made the comments at a ceremony marking the 29th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Ayatollah Khamenei talked about the enemy's plots, and pledged that he will disclose these plots for the people. "Today, the enemy's plots are related to economic, psychological and practical pressures. The purpose of all three pressures is to subjugate our beloved country of Iran," he added.

He referred to the sanctions imposed on Iran and said: "By putting us under economic pressure, they do not mean to just target the government and the establishment but they seek to disappoint the nation, so they think. They say let us enrage the Iranian nation so that the Islamic system surrenders to our bullying. This is their objective. They have not known the nation neither do they know the system," the Supreme Leader added.

On June 4, addressing the Board of Governors' meeting in Vienna on June 4, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), reaffirmed the agency's accesses to all the required nuclear sites in Iran, calling on Tehran to ensure "timely and proactive cooperation" with inspections under a 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers. 

Under the July 2015 deal signed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, the deal stipulated that Iran would curb its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of nuclear-related sanctions. As a result, Iran shut down many of its centrifuges used to develop bomb-grade uranium, but it retained the right to enrich uranium to a level of 3.67 percent and sell it abroad.

According to World Nuclear Association, there are two paths to a bomb: using either uranium or plutonium. The concentration of uranium 235 needs to be increased to about 5 percent, called “low-enriched uranium,” for nuclear reactor fuel and to about 90 percent, known as “highly enriched uranium,” for nuclear bombs.