Iran’s atomic agency chief hit out Sunday at European powers, saying their broken promises gave Tehran little choice but to scale back its commitments under a nuclear deal. Ali Akbar Salehi was speaking to reporters alongside Cornel Feruta, the acting head of the International Atomic Energy Agency who was on a one-day visit to Tehran.
The IAEA official’s visit comes a day after Iran said it was firing up advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium at a faster rate—the latest blow to the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. Iran last week had said it had fired up advanced centrifuges to boost its enriched uranium stockpiles. The country’s Atomic Energy Organisation said it had activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 advanced centrifuges. “The centrifuge machines, as they are engaged in research and development, will help with increasing the stockpile,” spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said.
“The capacity of these machines is many times more than the previous machines. This started as of yesterday (Friday),” he told a news conference in Tehran.
Under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran was allowed to enrich uranium using only first generation—or IR-1 -- centrifuges.
Britain, France and Germany have been trying to save the nuclear deal, which began unravelling last year when US President Donald Trump withdrew from it and began reimposing the punitive measures against Iran.
“The European Union was supposed to be the replacement of the US but, unfortunately, they failed to act on their promises,” Salehi said in comments aired on state television.
“We heard the EU spokesperson say they would be committed to the JCPOA as long as Iran is,” he said, referring to the deal by its formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
“I am wondering. Are they committed to non-adherence? Are they committed to breaking promises? Unfortunately, the Europeans have done this so far.”
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said the JCPOA was now just a “one-way street”.
“The street was supposed to be two-way. If it’s going to be one-way, the Islamic Republic of Iran will definitely make the right decisions at the right time like it has done with these three steps,” said Salehi.
Feruta, for his part, was cited by state media as saying the IAEA was committed to doing its work in an independent and professional manner.