During his visit to the controversial Fordow nuclear site, Iranian Parliament (Majlis) Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf expressed his contentment over the 20-percent uranium enrichment.
“Today, we came to the Fordow site according to our field survey and regarding the strategic law for removing sanctions, passed by the Majlis, and the deadline for implementing 20-percent uranium enrichment,” Tasnim news agency quoted Ghalibaf saying on January 28. Notably, the Tasnim news agency is affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force.
Furthermore, Ghalibaf claimed that the government managed to enrich more than 17kg of uranium by 20 percent at the Fordow facilities in less than one month, according to Tasnim.
In his visit, Ghalibaf was accompanied by Behrouz Kamalvandi, Spokesperson of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), who carries the AEOI deputy chief’s title. “We will install 1,000 IR2M centrifuges in less than three months. We are simultaneously producing and installing these machines,” Kamalvandi told Fars news agency affiliated with the IRGC.
“Would we withdraw from the Nuclear Proliferation Treatment (NPT) as scheduled if the sanctions had not been lifted?” Fars’s reporter asked Kamalvandi. “We will implement the law exactly. The Majlis and the government will decide in this regard. We are ready in this respect,” Kamalvandi said in response.
Regional Concerns Over Tehran’s Attempts for Nuclear Weapons
Also, on January 26, Israel’s top general said that its military was refreshing operational plans against Iran and that any U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran would be “wrong.”
“A return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, or even if it is a similar accord with several improvements, is bad and wrong from an operational and strategic point of view,” Lieutenant-General Aviv Kohavi said in an address to Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies.
“In the face of [enemies in Iran, Lebanon, and the Gaza Strip], we will respond with an extremely significant counterattack that will include targeting rockets, missiles, and weapons, whether in open areas or adjacent to and inside buildings.”
In response, Mahmoud Vaezi, Chief of Staff of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, hastily reacted to Israeli top official’s remarks. “Israel pursues psychological warfare, and the new U.S. administration has its independence,” Iran Press news agency cited Vaezi as saying on January 27.
“Both our nation and people across the region are familiar with the literature of Zionist regime officials. They talk more and follow psychological warfare… These [remarks] are because both the Zionist regime and various Arab countries in the region, those who are our enemies like Saudi Arabia, severely oppose the U.S. rejoining the Iran 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and lifting sanctions. They go the distance in their measures and lobbying in Washington D.C. to prevent this,” Vaezi said.
JCPOA Signatories Say, ‘We Are Determined to Make A Stronger Deal’
Notably, on January 26, in his first press conference as the secretary of state, Antony Blinken confirmed that the U.S. was “a long way” from deciding whether to rejoin the deal, and it would need to see what Iran actually did to resume complying with the pact, according to Reuters.
Earlier, on January 16, French Foreign Minister Jean Yves Le Drian expressed his concerns over Tehran’s nuclear activities, including uranium enrichment up to 20 percent purity and the illegal stockpile of them. “This has to stop because Iran and – I say this clearly – is in the process of acquiring nuclear (weapons) capacity,” France’s top diplomat told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas blamed Tehran for its nuclear extortion. “Tehran’s reckless behavior in the past weeks served as a reminder why we must stop the country from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon,” said Maas in his speech at the Institute for National Security Studies’ 14th annual international conference on January 27.
Both Le Drian and Maas emphasized that the new accord must address the Iranian government’s malign behavior in the region and provocative ballistic missile programs.
“Tough discussions will be needed over ballistic proliferation and Iran’s destabilization of its neighbors in the region,” Le Drian said.
“Iran’s missile program and ‘aggressive’ activities across the Middle East must be addressed,” Maas declared.
Also, in his first talk with Blinken on January 27, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab discussed the need to tackle Iran’s destabilizing behavior, according to a British Foreign Ministry spokesperson.
Therefore, not only did not Tehran’s recent disputed nuclear activities provide a good position for Iranian officials, but they have now admitted to more concessions, particularly in line with their ‘regional power,’ to receive economic reliefs.