Iran begins uranium enrichment in Fordo nuclear plant

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Tehran – After more than four years, Iran has resumed uranium enrichment in the underground facility Fordo south of Tehran, once again violating the international nuclear agreement. The leadership in Tehran wants to increase the pressure on Germany and the other contracting parties to fulfill their obligations from the nuclear deal. The 2015 Vienna Convention should prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons.

The Iranian nuclear organization (AEOI) also threatened on Saturday with an exit from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, should the Vienna Agreement not be implemented in accordance with the contract. Iran ratified the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1970, which aims for a "peaceful use" of nuclear energy.

US wanted to put pressure on Iran

The United States had unilaterally withdrawn from the nuclear agreement in early May 2018 and imposed sanctions against the country. With a policy of "maximum pressure," the US government is trying to persuade Iran to renegotiate the nuclear agreement with stricter conditions. The other contracting parties are still holding onto the deal, but without the US, they are unable to implement it. Many companies are reluctant to invest in Iran. Tehran is particularly concerned with the lifting of US sanctions, which have plunged the country into an economic crisis.

AEOI spokesman Behrus Kamalwandi said uranium enrichment had started to a degree of 4.5 percent. Earlier in the week, uranium gas had been injected into the 1044 centrifuges in Fordo. According to the Vienna Atomic Energy Contract, Fordo was only to be used for scientific projects; the centrifuges there were only allowed to be tested without gas injection.

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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna has been informed about all steps in Fordo, Kamalwandi said. IAEA inspectors were also present on site and reviewed the process. The Iranian nuclear authority also invited local media representatives to Fordo, but foreign journalists were not allowed to attend.

Second nuclear power plant under construction

Western intelligence has repeatedly accused the Iranian leadership of using the underground nuclear facility Fordo for military purposes. Therefore, the transformation of the plant into a research center was one of the key issues in the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the five UN veto powers – China, France, Great Britain, Russia and the USA – as well as Germany.

According to Kamalwandi, Iran will also start building a second nuclear power plant in Bushehr in southern Iran on Sunday. The construction work on the second Akw should last until 2023. Iran will then start construction of the third nuclear power plant, the spokesman said. The first Akw in Bushehr with a 1000-megawatt reactor had been built by Iran in cooperation with Russia.

President Hassan Ruhani had called it unacceptable that an agreement was only respected by one side. Therefore, Tehran vehemently rejects international concern and criticism. "By adhering to the Vienna Agreement, we will do it," said Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Sarif. Ruhani also emphasizes that Iran will immediately return to the provisions of the nuclear deal as soon as it has been implemented in accordance with the Treaty. (AP)



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