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After an IAEA emergency meeting insisted upon by the U.S. regarding the Iran nuclear deal it left, Iran says it has nothing to hide and is open to diplomacy.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi says the country remains committed to the 2015-signed nuclear deal, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but at the same time, defends the nation’s rights.
“Although Iran is pursuing this strategy, we have not closed the door to diplomacy and the door is open to talks,” Mousavi told reporters Wednesday.
The remarks came as an emergency session of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was held at Washington’s insistence, claiming Iran has breached the nuclear deal, the same one from which United States President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from last year and up by reimposing harsh economic sanctions on the republic. The meeting took place in Vienna where the JCPOA was ratified nearly four years ago.
In a tweet Wednesday, the U.S. head of state said sanctions on Iran will “soon be increased, substantially!” In the same tweet, Trump claimed Iran has “long been” enriching uranium,” but offered no evidence to support the statement.
The deal confines enrichment in Iran to its Natanz site, which was itself exposed in 2003. Any clandestine enrichment elsewhere would be a grave breach of the deal. It was not immediately clear from Trump’s comments whether he was referring to previous, long-known activities or making a new allegation, according to Reuters.
Kazim Gharib Abadi, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, told reporters after the 35-nation meeting that it had “nothing to hide.” U.N. inspectors have uncovered no covert enrichment by Iran since long before its 2015 nuclear agreement, says Reuters.
"Claiming that Iran wants nuclear weapons, America is trying to form a coalition against this country and put Tehran under pressure but these political attempts are in vain," said Behrouz Kamalvandi, who is spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
Washington used the July 10 gathering to accuse Iran of extortion after it inched past the deal’s limit on enrichment levels over the past week, while still offering to hold talks with Tehran.
IAEA inspectors confirmed Wednesday that Iran is now enriching uranium to 4.5 percent purity, above the 3.67 limit agreed upon in the deal.
However, that percentage is still far below the 20 percent Iran refined prior to the deal, and the roughly 90 percent needed to produce bomb-grade nuclear fuel. Low-enriched uranium provides fuel for civilian power plants, states Reuters.
“The latest steps indicate that Tehran’s leadership has made a decision to move onto the offensive to create leverage vis-à-vis the international community and bring about a solution to its constraints,” a source told the news agency.
Iran says it is reacting to harsh U.S. economic sanctions. The Islamic Republic has been calling on EU officials to mediate the discussion to put the deal back on track and help remove the crippling sanctions.
Simultaneous to the Vienna talks, Emmanuel Bonne, a top French diplomat in the Emmanuel Macron administration, is in Tehran to discuss how to salvage the JCPOA with Iranian officials.
Bonne will talk with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary of Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Shamkhani as Europeans speed up efforts towards saving the deal. In June, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also met with Iranian authorities to discuss the accord that the nation signed following the original pact between France, United Kingdom, the European Union, China, and Russia.
There has been no serious suggestion Iran is secretly enriching now in a way that would hint at an effort to develop a nuclear weapon, says Reuters.
Abadi told reporters following Trump’s tweets that Tehran’s nuclear activities were being scrutinized by IAEA inspectors. The ambassador told a German newspaper Wednesday that Tehran intended to preserve the nuclear deal if all other signatories honored their commitments under it.
“Everything can be reversed within a single hour - if all of our partners in the treaty would just fulfill their obligations in the same way,” the diplomat told Die Zeit.
The Trump administration says it is open to negotiations with Iran on a more far-reaching agreement on nuclear and security issues. Iran has conditioned any talks on first being able to export as much oil as it did before the U.S. withdrawal.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have escalated, culminating in a near-air strike weeks ago by the U.S. on Iran that Trump says he called off at the last minute.
The U.S. mission to the IAEA said in a statement that Iran must “reverse its recent nuclear steps and cease any plans for further advancements in the future.” The communique reads that the U.S. administration “has made clear” it is “open to negotiation without preconditions and is offering Iran the possibility of a full normalization of relations.”