MIDDLE EAST

Iran to use advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment

In this file photo taken on February 25, 2009, Iranian technicians walk outside the building housing the reactor of Bushehr nuclear power plant at the Iranian port town of Bushehr, 1200 Kms south of the capital Tehran. (AFP Photo)

Iran has confirmed that it will use more modern and advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium in a third phase of its withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with global powers.

An Iranian official said Saturday the country will use advanced centrifuges that has capacity to enrich its uranium over 20% as part of its third step to cut nuclear deal commitments in response to U.S. sanctions.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), told a news conference in capital Tehran that the third phase in reducing the country's commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal was initiated on Friday.

Kamalvandi said Research and Development commitments are suspended and Tehran has started to inject gas into IR4 and IR6 centrifuges to enrich its uranium.

"We have started lifting limitations on our Research and Development. In this phase, we will use much more advanced centrifuges," he said, highlighting that all the steps were reversible if the "other party" fulfills its promises.

"We will develop new centrifuges in line with our needs," he said, adding that it has the capacity to enrich the uranium beyond 20%, however, it does not plan to do so for the time being.

Kamalvandi noted that Tehran will carry out the commitment reduction steps in a transparent manner, and recalled the reason for the action as providing balance in the deal after the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from it last year.

"Europe should know that not much time is left to salvage the nuclear deal," he warned.

Iran is demanding that the European countries that were part of the deal to protect it after the U.S. withdrew from it in May 2018.

After its withdrawal, the U.S. imposed economic sanctions on companies that deal with Iran.

To protect the deal, France, Britain, and Germany formed a mechanism that assist and reassure economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran.

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