United States extends nuclear waivers for Iran, but with limits

Agency Majid Asgaripour

Agency Majid Asgaripour

Iran will continue with low-level uranium enrichment in line with its nuclear deal with world powers, Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani was quoted as saying on Saturday, despite a US move to stop it.

Despite the US' withdrawal since May 2018, Iran has remained committed to the deal as confirmed in all of the 14 reports issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

However, the waivers will be reduced from 180 days to 90, and State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement that "assistance to expand Iran's Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant beyond the existing reactor unit could be sanctionable".

The European Union voiced "concern" Saturday over extra USA sanctions aimed at unpicking an global deal with Iran that has curbed the Islamic Republic's nuclear program. Highly enriched uranium can be used to fuel a nuclear weapon.

That decision is aimed at forcing Iran to stop enriching uranium, something it was allowed to do up to certain limits under the nuclear deal, it said. As part of the nuclear deal, Iran is allowed to sell any enriched uranium above that threshold on worldwide markets in exchange for natural uranium.

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US President Donald Trump a year ago withdrew his country from the Iran deal, which still has the support of the UN Security Council and the remaining signatories to the accord: Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and Iran. "We should increase production and raise our (non-oil) exports and resist America's plots against the sale of our oil".

Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says the Islamic Republic will continue uranium enrichment in line with the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal despite the USA decision to leave the treaty and impose sanctions on Iran's export of the substance.

But Trump, surrounded by hawkish aides, has been progressively ratcheting up sanctions pressure on Iran, demanding it also rein in its conventional military missile program and pull its forces and proxy fighters out of other Middle East countries.

Some hard-liners on Iran in Congress and outside the administration have called for the elimination of all sanctions waivers, including for civilian nuclear cooperation, in order for the administration to make good on its "maximum pressure" campaign.

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