Iran refuses to stop 20% enrichment before US lifts sanctions

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Iran will not stop enriching uranium to 20% until the United States lifts all sanctions, according to comments by an unnamed senior official broadcast on Iranian state television on Tuesday, after a media outlet US communication said that Washington could offer a new proposal to start negotiations.

The Biden administration has been trying to engage in talks with Iran to bring both sides back into compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. This deal removed economic sanctions imposed on Tehran in exchange for curbs on Iran’s nuclear program, in order to prevent the manufacture of a nuclear weapon, an ambition that Tehran denies.

“Senior Iranian official tells Press TV that Tehran will stop its uranium enrichment to 20 percent only if the United States first lifts all its sanctions on Iran,” state broadcaster Press TV said on its website.

“The official said that Tehran will further reduce its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal if the United States does not lift all sanctions, warning that Washington’s time is rapidly running out,” he added.

Separately, Iran’s mission to the United Nations tweeted: “No proposal is needed for the US to rejoin the JCPOA (nuclear deal). Only a political decision is required on the part of the US to fully and immediately implement all its obligations under the deal…”

As previously reported by Politico, a US proposal whose details are still being worked out would ask Iran to suspend some of its nuclear activities, such as work on advanced centrifuges and enriching uranium to 20% purity, in exchange for which Washington would soften to some extent its economic sanctions.

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US President Joe Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions.

Iran, after waiting more than a year, retaliated by violating some of the pact’s nuclear restrictions, including the 3.67% purity limit at which it is allowed to enrich uranium.

The probability that progress will be made in resuming the agreement before Iran holds presidential elections in June has decreased after Tehran has chosen to adopt a tougher stance before negotiating again, sources consulted have said.

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