WASHINGTON/VIENNA: President Donald Trump accused Iran on Wednesday of secretly enriching uranium for a long time and said US sanctions would be increased “substantially” soon, as the UN nuclear watchdog held an emergency meeting on Tehran’s breach of a nuclear deal.
Washington used the session of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors to accuse Iran of extortion after it inched past the deal’s limit on enrichment levels, while still offering to hold talks with Tehran.
“Iran has long been secretly ‘enriching,’ in total violation of the terrible 150 illion Dollar deal made by John Kerry and the Obama Administration,” Trump said on Twitter.
“Remember, that deal was to expire in a short number of years. Sanctions will soon be increased, substantially!”
While Iran was found to have had covert enrichment sites long before the nuclear accord, the deal also imposed the most intrusive nuclear supervision on Iran of any country, and there has been no serious suggestion Iran is secretly enriching now.
The deal confines enrichment in Iran to its Natanz site, which was itself exposed in 2003. Any clandestine enrichment elsewhere would be a grave breach of the deal.
“There is no credible reason for Iran to expand its nuclear programme, and there is no way to read this as anything other than a crude and transparent attempt to extort payments from the international community,” said a Trump administration statement issued at the closed-door session of the IAEA board in Vienna.
“We call on Iran to reverse its recent nuclear steps and cease any plans for further advancements in the future. The United States has made clear that we are open to negotiation without preconditions, and that we are offering Iran the possibility of a full normalisation of relations.”
Diplomats from several countries on the IAEA board said that while fiery exchanges between the Iranian and US envoys were likely at the meeting at agency headquarters, they did not expect the board to take any concrete action.