Iran announced on Saturday April 10 the commissioning of new cascades of modernized centrifuges, making it possible to enrich uranium more quickly. The Islamic Republic has, however, prohibited the use of this type of technology since 2015 and the entry into force of the Vienna agreement on Iranian nuclear power.
The announcements come as discussions are taking place in Vienna between the Islamic Republic and the other signatory states of the 2015 agreement (Germany, China, France, United Kingdom and Russia) on how to reintegrate the United States into the union. of this pact concluded in the Austrian capital.
On Friday, a US official said on condition of anonymity that Washington had indirectly made proposals “Very serious” to Iran to revive this agreement and that the Americans were waiting for a certain “Reciprocity” from the Islamic Republic.
More than 200 new generation centrifuges
The measures announced with fanfare on Saturday by the Iranian executive do not go in this direction. The president, Hassan Rohani, officially inaugurated, by means of a videoconference ceremony broadcast by State television, a line of 164 centrifuges known as “IR-6” within the nuclear complex of Natanz (center of the Iran). At the same time, he launched the supply of uranium gas to two other cascades: one of 30 IR-5 and the other of 30 IR-6S, with the aim of testing the efficiency. The president also kicked off tests to verify the “Mechanical stability” of the latest generation of Iranian centrifuges, called “IR-9”. State television did not broadcast images of the said waterfalls, but engineers in white coats working in duplex confirmed the commissioning of the line of centrifuges.
The function of all these installations is to enrich uranium faster and in more abundant quantities than the “first generation” IR-1 centrifuges, the only ones whose use is, under the agreement of Vienna, allowed to Iran – and this for production purposes. In terms of research and development, this same agreement allows the Islamic Republic at this stage to test only a very limited number of IR-5 and IR-4. These new tests therefore go against the commitments made by Tehran. According to engineers from the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, the IR-6 and IR-9 centrifuges are ten and fifty times more powerful than the IR-1, respectively.
Mr. Rohani repeated on the occasion of this ceremony organized for the “National Nuclear Technology Day” that his country’s nuclear program was purely “Peaceful”.
Vienna Agreement not respected
The Vienna agreement has been moribund since the United States unilaterally left it in 2018, under the presidency of Donald Trump, restoring an avalanche of economic and financial sanctions against Iran. In response, Tehran began to break away from its commitments from May 2019, and the pace has accelerated in recent months.
The new American president, Joe Biden, has declared that he is ready to re-enter the agreement, therefore to lift the sanctions after negotiations. For its part, Iran says it is ready to return to the full and complete application of the text, provided that the United States first lift all the sanctions it has reimposed or introduced against Tehran since 2018. Tehran refuses also to discuss directly with the United States at this stage.
Until then, the exchanges that took place this week in Vienna between Iran and its partners on a relaunch of the agreement have been judged “Productive” by the European Union, which coordinates the discussions.
According to Russia, in order to “Maintain the positive dynamic”, diplomats from countries still party to the Vienna Agreement “Will meet again next week” in the Austrian capital. According to Tehran, this meeting is to take place on Wednesday, at the level of deputy foreign ministers.