Iran’s representative in the International Atomic Energy Agency, Kazem Gharib Abadi, said that Tehran has entered a new phase of uranium enrichment, amid Saudi and Israeli calls to reject the current nuclear agreement.
Abadi revealed that 174 new centrifuges have been installed inside the Natanz nuclear facility. The Iranian official stressed that his country will not stop the steps to reduce the commitment before lifting the sanctions and obtaining its rights from the nuclear deal.
Meanwhile, the Saudi ambassador to the United Nations, Abdullah Al-Muallami, said that the nuclear agreement signed with the major powers in 2015 with Iran has proven its failure.
And he added – in an interview with Fox News – that the administration of US President-elect Joe Biden will understand that a new agreement must be signed, and that the previous agreement is dead.
Observers believe that Saudi Arabia is concerned about the possibility that the Biden administration will withdraw from the sanctions imposed on Iran, return to the nuclear agreement with it, limit arms sales, and pressure it on the background of the rights issue.
Also in this context, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that there should be no return to the nuclear agreement from which the United States withdrew.
In a speech in southern Israel, Netanyahu said, “There should be no return to the previous nuclear agreement. We must adhere to a relentless policy to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons.”
Netanyahu did not mention Biden directly, but the Israeli media widely considered that his remarks were a message to the next American president that he would not return the United States to the agreement.
For his part, a US official accompanying Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his foreign tour yesterday said that the administration of outgoing President Donald Trump hopes that the next administration will follow its approach towards the Iran file, and thus continue its campaign of “maximum pressure.”
The French Press Agency quoted the American official – who requested anonymity – as saying, “It is no secret to anyone that the (Trump-led) administration has been focusing for several years on the maximum pressure campaign against Iran.” He described the campaign as a “tremendous success” that effectively “deprived the regime of billions of dollars,” which he said would have gone to armed groups loyal to Tehran in the region.
Biden – who will take office on January 20 next – had said that he would rejoin the nuclear agreement if Tehran returned to abide by it first, and that he would work with allies to “strengthen and expand its scope, provided that it responds more effectively to Iran’s other destabilizing activities.”
The agreement seeks to curb the Iranian nuclear program in order to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for easing the economic sanctions imposed on it.
However, the agreement, from which President Trump withdrew in 2018, did not restrict the Iranian ballistic missile program or its support for militants in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, which Washington deems destabilizing the Middle East.
The European parties to the agreement, along with Russia and China, are trying to preserve it, despite US pressure to impose comprehensive sanctions on Iran over the violations it announced in response to Washington’s withdrawal, while Iran denies that its nuclear program aims to develop weapons.