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Iran says it will continue uranium enrichment despite crippling US sanctions

Iran says it will continue uranium enrichment and heavy water production.[Getty]

Date of publication: 5 May, 2019

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Iran says it will continue uranium enrichment and heavy water production despite US pressure on Tehran to end it.
Iran says it will continue uranium enrichment and heavy water production despite US pressure on the country to end it.

State TV quoted Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani as saying on Saturday that under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Tehran has the right to continue developing uranium enrichment and heavy-water production.

"Under the deal, we have not done anything wrong. We continue enriching," Larijani said.

On Friday, the US said it did not renew two sanctions waivers - one that had allowed Iran to store excess heavy water produced in the uranium enrichment process in Oman, and one that allowed Iran to swap enriched uranium for raw yellowcake with Russia.

That decision was aimed at forcing Iran to stop enriching uranium, something it was allowed to do up to certain limits under the nuclear deal. Highly enriched uranium can be used to fuel a nuclear weapon.

The European Union voiced "concern" on Saturday over extra US sanctions aimed at unpicking an international deal with Iran that has curbed the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme.

US President Donald Trump last year withdrew his country from the Iran deal, which still has the support of the UN Security Council and the remaining signatories to the accord: Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany and Iran.

The objective of the deal was to prevent Iran working to develop nuclear weapons technology. Tehran agreed to the nuclear restrictions in return for a lifting of sanctions originally imposed by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.

Nuclear inspectors have certified that Iran has stuck by the terms of the deal.

But Trump, surrounded by hawkish aides, has been progressively ratcheting up sanctions pressure on Iran, demanding it also rein in its conventional military missile programme and pull its forces and proxy fighters out of other Middle East countries.

Trump withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with world powers last year and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.

US officials have said they are aiming to choke off Iranian revenue so as to reduce the clerical regime's regional clout, notably its support for militants groups such as Lebanon's Hizballah.

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