Iran on Wednesday warned that it would start limiting international inspectors’ access to its nuclear sites as it continues to move away from its commitments under the nuclear deal.
Hossein Naghavi-Hosseini, the spokesman for the Iranian parliament’s national security committee, said that Iran was taking the step because “when the other party doesn’t fulfill its commitments, there is no necessity for us to meet our part of commitments.”
“In the fourth step of reducing JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) commitments, we will probably impose limits on inspections, which means the International Atomic Energy Agency’s surveillance on Iran’s nuclear activities will be reduced,” the Guardian newspaper quoted him as saying.
“Europeans have not honored their part of the commitments and we have not seen any practical step taken by the other side,” he said.
Iran has steadily increased its breaches of the nuclear accord as it pushes its European partners to find a way around US sanctions that have kept it from selling oil abroad and crippled the Iranian economy.
Also Wednesday, France urged Iran to stop violating the accord.
“Iran must abstain from crossing an especially worrying new phase of new measures that could contribute to an escalation in tensions,” French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnès von der Muhll said, according to the Reuters news agency.
She was referring to an announcement last week that Iran plans to start using a new array of advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the country’s nuclear chief, told Iranian state TV that an array of 30 IR-6 centrifuges will be inaugurated in the coming weeks.
Under the terms of its 2015 deal — which the US unilaterally withdrew from over a year ago — Iran had committed to not using the array until late 2023.
Salehi also said Iran is now producing up to six kilograms of enriched uranium daily.
“It means we have restored pre-deal” capacity, he said.
In September, Iran inaugurated an array of 20 IR-6 centrifuges that can produce enriched uranium 10 times as fast as the IR-1 that Iran was already using.
Iran is currently enriching uranium to about 4.5%. Prior to the nuclear deal, it only reached up to 20%, which is a short technical step away from the weapons-grade levels of 90%.
Iran denies that it seeks nuclear weapons. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who opposed the 2015 deal, insists that Tehran is seeking a nuclear arsenal, and is hiding parts of its program
Regional tensions spiked last month after a drone and missile attack on Saudi Arabia’s largest oil facility that shook global energy markets. The US said Iran was behind the attack. Tehran denied the charge and said any retaliatory strikes by the US or Saudi Arabia could lead to “all-out war.”