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US warns Iran after it moves to step up uranium-enrichment capacity

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The United States warned that Washington will not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons after Iran announced plans to increase its uranium-enrichment capacity.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued the warning on Twitter late on June 6, saying, “We’re watching reports that #Iran plans to increase its enrichment capacity. We won’t allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.”

Pompeo added that “Iran is aware of our resolve.”

Pompeo’s statement came after Iran said a facility to build advanced centrifuges will be completed in a month at its Natanz nuclear center as part of its plans to increase its uranium-enrichment capacity, under orders from Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, if a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world power collapses.

“After the supreme leader’s order, we prepared this center within 48 hours. We hope the facility to be completed in a month,” Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said on June 6 in an interview broadcast on state television.

Khamenei and other hard-liners in Iran have questioned whether Iran should continue honoring the nuclear deal after U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last month to withdraw from it and reimpose U.S. sanctions on Iran.

In making the move to step up its nuclear enrichment capacity, Iran told the IAEA, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, that it was staying within the provisions of the accord.

The nuclear deal was designed to set strict limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment and other nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

The other signatories to the accord — Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany — have said they remain committed to the deal so long as Iran is honoring the agreement.

Based on reporting by AP and Reuters