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Iran says it will continue to enrich uranium despite US pressure

Ali Larijani is an Iranian philosopher, conservative politician and current chairman of the Parliament of Iran. (Mostafameraji/Wikimedia Commons)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani says Iran will continue to enrich uranium in accordance with its nuclear accord with several world powers regardless of moves by the United States to put a stop to it.

“Under the [nuclear accord] Iran can produce heavy water and this is not in violation of the agreement. Therefore, we will carry on with enrichment activity,” the semiofficial news agency ISNA quoted Larijani as saying on May 4.

The United States under President Donald Trump has ramped up pressure on the Iranian government as it seeks to end what it calls Tehran’s “malign” activities in the region.

On May 3, the Trump administration slapped new restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities as it looks to force Tehran to stop producing low-enriched uranium and expanding its only nuclear power plant, intensifying a campaign aimed at halting Tehran’s ballistic missile program and curbing its regional power.

Iran has kept its nuclear program within the main limits imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), despite the U.S. pullout from the agreement a year ago.

In pulling out of the JCPOA, Trump said the terms were not tough enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and he accused Tehran of violating the “spirit” of the accord by financing Islamic militants in the region.

Iran denies it supports insurgent activity and has said its nuclear program is strictly for civilian energy purposes.

Despite increasing pressure on Iran, the United States on May 3 extended five sanction waivers that will allow Russian, China, and European countries to continue to work with Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

At the same time, the State Department said it was ending two waivers related to Iranian exports of enriched uranium in what it called “the toughest sanctions ever on the Iranian regime.” All of the waivers were due to expire on May 4.

The 45- to 90-day extensions were shorter than the 180 days granted previously but can be renewed.