Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday ordered his country’s nuclear industry to develop faster uranium enrichment technology, marking another major breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.
“From Friday we will witness research and development on different kinds of centrifuges and new centrifuges and also whatever is needed for enriching uranium in an accelerated way. All limitations on our research and development will be lifted on Friday,” Rouhani declared in a televised address.
Rouhani hinted the Europeans, who have been trying to keep the nuclear deal alive after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew in May 2018, might be able to offer incentives that would dissuade Iran from taking these steps.
Iran’s original deadline compliance with its demands was this week, but Rouhani said Europe would be given “another two months to fulfill its commitment,” by which he meant protecting Iran from the effects of U.S. sanctions.
The Iranians are evidently unsatisfied with French proposals to grant Tehran a $15 billion credit for oil sales and were angered by new U.S. sanctions designed to choke off a terrorist-funded network for illegal oil sales in Syria. Washington indicated disapproval of the French oil credit proposal, with U.S. special representative Brian Hook warning, “We can’t make it any more clear that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure and we are not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers.”
Rouhani insisted Iran’s accelerated uranium enrichment will be “peaceful, under surveillance by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, and reversible.” The enhanced enrichment Rouhani hinted at would be unnecessary for civilian nuclear power, but it would shorten Iran’s “breakout time” for developing nuclear bombs.
Iran’s atomic energy agency said it would follow up on Rouhani’s announcement with details on Saturday.