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Pompeo: US ending sanctions waiver for site where Iran resumed uranium enrichment

Pompeo: US ending sanctions waiver for site where Iran resumed uranium enrichment
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The United States is ending a sanctions waiver for civil-nuclear work at a site where Iran recently announced it was enriching uranium, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoBiden faces challenges, opportunities in Middle East O'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Israeli military instructed to prepare for Trump strike on Iran: report MORE announced Monday.

“The United States will terminate the sanctions waiver related to the nuclear facility at Fordow effective Dec. 15, 2019,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department. “The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world’s largest state sponsor of terror is zero. Iran originally constructed Fordow as a fortified underground bunker to conduct secret uranium enrichment work, and there is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site.”

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“Iran should reverse its activity there immediately,” he added.

Pompeo’s announcement comes after Iran announced, and the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed, that it had resumed uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow site in its latest breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.

The deal between Iran and other world powers allowed Fordow, a long-secret facility, to maintain centrifuges for research purposes, but banned enrichment activities there.

Iran has been steadily increasing its violations of the nuclear deal, which President TrumpDonald John TrumpVenezuela judge orders prison time for 6 American oil executives Trump says he'll leave White House if Biden declared winner of Electoral College The Memo: Biden faces tough road on pledge to heal nation MORE withdrew the United States from in 2018, in an effort to pressure the United States and Europe for sanctions relief. Iranian officials have maintained the violations are reversible should the relief come.

On Monday, Pompeo accused Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of using “nuclear brinksmanship to extort the international community.”

“The United States rejects this approach completely, and call on all nations to do the same,” Pompeo said. “The only viable way forward is through comprehensive negotiations that address the full range of Iran’s threats in their entirety.”

Though Trump withdrew from the deal and reimposed sanctions that had been lifted under it, the administration granted sanctions waivers to allow Europe, China and Russia to cooperate with Iran on converting nuclear facilities to nonmilitary purposes. In addition to Fordow, the administration granted waivers for projects at Bushehr and Arak.

The administration renewed all three waivers at the end of October.

The administration has argued the waivers were necessary to maintain oversight over Iran’s nuclear work.

But Iran hard-liners in Congress have been increasingly pressuring the administration to revoke the waivers. Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzO'Brien on 2024 talk: 'There's all kinds of speculation out there' Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation McSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol MORE (R-Texas) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLet's give thanks to Republican defenders of Democracy Clyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight MORE (R-S.C.) and Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyPressure grows from GOP for Trump to recognize Biden election win Trump: Liz Cheney's election remarks sparked by push to bring US troops home Biden's lead over Trump surpasses 6M votes as more ballots are tallied MORE (R-Wyo.) introduced a bill last week to revoke the waivers.

“Iran is exploiting the civil-nuclear waivers from the Obama-Iran deal, which the Trump administration has continued to issue, to build up their nuclear program and buy time until the nuclear deal expires, leaving them with a full-blown unlimited civilian nuclear program,” Cruz said in a statement last week reissued hours before Pompeo’s Monday announcement. “Enough is enough. Now is the time to end the deal once and for all.”