08 May, 2019
Iran threatened Wednesday to restart enriching uranium in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for the 2015 nuclear agreement.
In a televised speech, President Hassan Rouhani also said that Iran would stop exporting extra uranium and heavy water from its nuclear program. The export of heavy water and extra uranium were requirements of the deal.
Enriched uranium can be used to make nuclear weapons. Heavy water is used to cool nuclear reactors.
Rouhani did not explain how much uranium it would enrich.
One year ago, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement. China, Russia and European nations are still part of the deal, however.
After the United States withdrew from the deal, it put strong sanctions on Iran. The move caused a severe economic crisis.
Rouhani said Iran wanted to negotiate new terms for the deal with remaining partners. He wants new terms to permit Iran to sell its oil, which it currently cannot do because of the U.S. sanctions.
Rouhani also warned of a "strong reaction" if European leaders try to put more sanctions on Iran through the U.N. Security Council. He did not explain what a "strong reaction" might be.
Rouhani also said that Iran wants action within 60 days. If there is no action, Iran will stop a Chinese-led effort to redesign its Arak heavy water nuclear reactor. Such reactors produce plutonium, which can be used in nuclear weapons.
U. S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday was meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt for talks before Trump's visit to Britain next month. Pompeo told reporters the United States would decide how to answer Iran after Iran takes action.
Hunt said on Wednesday the agreement remained an important achievement and urged Tehran to think before breaking it. He said Britain and the United States agreed that Iran should never be permitted to have a nuclear weapon.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed Tehran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif for talks on Wednesday in Moscow. Following the meeting, both countries condemned the United States for leaving the deal a year ago, a move they say caused the current problems.
Zarif gave his own warning from Moscow.
"After a year of patience, Iran stops measures that (the) US has made impossible to continue," he wrote on Twitter.
The 2015 nuclear deal lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. Iran reached the deal after years of negotiations that included secret talks in Oman between Iran and the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Western governments had long feared Iran's nuclear program could lead to the development of nuclear weapons. Iran has always said its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
The United States left the deal after Trump campaigned on a promise to end the agreement. His administration says the deal should have put limits on Iran's ballistic missile program. It also believes the deal did nothing to end Tehran's efforts to influence Iraq and other countries in the area.
There is still hope for the deal. Iran did not walk away from it, but instead chose to stop exporting its extra uranium and heavy water. Observers say that means there is still the possibility for an agreement to be reached.
Under the 2015 deal, Iran cannot keep more than 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium and 130 tons of heavy water. By comparison, the country used to possess 10,000 kilograms of higher-enriched uranium.
I'm Susan Shand.
The Associated Press and the Reuters News Agency reported this story. Susan Shand adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.
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Words in This Story
uranium – n. a radioactive element that is used to make nuclear energy and nuclear weapons
sanctions – n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country,
plutonium – n. a radioactive element that is used to make nuclear energy and nuclear weapons
patience – n. the ability to wait for a long time without becoming annoyed or upset
ballistic missile – n. a weapon that is shot through the sky over a great distance and then falls to the ground and explode