Russian invasion not a green light for Iranian nuclear weapon: US State Dept

Iran to enrich uranium to 20% even after deal: Nuclear Chief

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WASHINGTON D.C: The US will continue to engage with Russia over efforts to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even though Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine had made it a “pariah on the world stage,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price.

Price said US officials would now only engage with Russian counterparts on issues “fundamental to our national security interest.”

That includes the talks to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, including Russia, Price said.

“The fact that Russia has now invaded Ukraine should not give Iran the green light to develop a nuclear weapon,” Price added.

Iran will continue to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity even after sanctions on it are lifted and a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers is revived, Iranian news agencies quoted the country’s nuclear chief as saying on Friday.

“(Uranium) enrichment … continues with a maximum ceiling of 60 percent, which led Westerners to rush to negotiations, and it will continue with the lifting of sanctions by both 20 percent and 5 percent,” the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami, was quoted by the semi-official news agency Fars as saying.

The 2015 deal restricts the purity to which Iran can enrich uranium to 3.67 percent, far below the roughly 90 percent that is weapons-grade or the 20 percent Iran reached before the deal. Iran is now enriching to various levels, the highest being around 60 percent.

Eslami did not elaborate or explain how 20 percent enrichment would be acceptable under the 2015 nuclear deal which Iran has been trying to revive through indirect talks with the US.

Iranian officials had told Reuters earlier that Iran had agreed to suspend its 20 percent and 60 percent enrichment if an agreement is reached in the Vienna talks to salvage the 2015 pact.

Separately, a senior Iranian cleric said earlier that ending Iran’s economic isolation by lifting banking and oil trade sanctions was Tehran’s most important demand in talks with world powers in the Austrian capital Vienna.

Iran on Wednesday urged the West to be “realistic” in the talks, as its top negotiator returned to Tehran for what might be final consultations ahead of a possible accord following months of indirect talks with the US.

“Our negotiators … do their best to ensure the nation’s interests, and know that the final point is the lifting of all sanctions, especially on banking and trade,” Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said at Friday prayers in Tehran.

“If these sanctions are not lifted, it is as if there were no talks,” state media quoted him as saying.

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