The president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, has taken another step away from the crumbling nuclear deal wth world powers since the United states withdrew from the deal last year.
The president announced that Tehran will start injecing uranium gas into centrifuges at its Fordow facility.
In a televised statement on Tuesday, Rouhani said the 1,044 machines at the plant will be injected with the uranium gas from Wednesday.
Under the nuclear deal signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, these centrifuges are supposed to spin without gas injection. Tehran has gradually reduced commitments made under the accord – including uranium stockpile and enrichment limits – since being hit with renewed US sanctions last year.
Russia said on Tuesday it was concerned by Iran’s latest move, adding it would like the deal to remain in place.
“We are monitoring the development of the situation with concern,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “We support the preservation of this deal.”
A spokeswoman for the European Commission expressed similar concern, adding that “it is increasingly difficult to preserve” the deal.
Iran has two vast enrichment sites, at Natanz and Fordow. Much of Natanz is deep underground and Fordow is buried inside a mountain, which is widely believed to protect them from aerial bombardment. Before the deal, Iran used Fordow to enrich uranium to 20 percent fissile purity.
“This announcement will be taken very seriously by the European Union, Russia and China, because of the sensitivity of Fordow and what it entails,” Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, a fellow at Royal United Services Institute, told Al Jazeera. “So we will have to see if Iran went too far in trying to push the remaining parties or if the JCPOA stays alive or not,” she added, referring to the deal’s formal title.
The Iranian president has however stated that all seps taken so far by the country are reversible and Tehran will uphold all of its commitments under the deal when the remaining signatories do the same.
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