Middle East/North Africa

Khamenei: ‘Iran will not yield to pressure’ may increase uranium enrichment to 60 percent

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Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday signaled that Tehran will not back down to the U.S. on nuclear activity and may enrich uranium up to 60 percent, Reuters reported.

“Iran’s uranium enrichment level will not be limited to 20 percent. We will increase it to whatever level the country needs. … We may increase it to 60 percent,” Khamenei said, according to state TV.

The ayatollah went on to say “Americans and the European parties to the [2015 nuclear] deal have used unjust language against Iran. … Iran will not yield to pressure. Our stance will not change.”

In 2018, the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the nuclear pact, levying numerous sanctions against Iran. Tehran, in the years since, has pulled out of several of its own commitments under the terms of the deal. The agreement imposes a 3.67 percent purity limit on uranium refinement.

Khamenei on Monday continued to deny Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. “If we wanted to … no one could stop Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons … [but] Iran is not seeking nuclear weapons,” he said, according to the network.

The Biden administration has repeatedly said it is willing to discuss reentering the deal, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying Monday the reentry could come in exchange for the removal of sanctions.

“Working with allies and partners, we will also seek to lengthen and strengthen the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] and address other areas of concern, including Iran’s destabilizing regional behavior and ballistic missile development and proliferation,” Blinken said.

Despite the U.S. overtures, Washington and Tehran have struggled to reach an agreement on which nation should make the first movie. Iran, which has also been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, has said U.S. officials must lift economic sanctions before they are willing to fully reenter negotiations with the Biden administration.

Tags Antony Blinken Ayatollah Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Iran Nuclear proliferation
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