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Tensions escalated before the new Iranian talks

Western powers greeted with concern Iran’s latest move – plans to enrich uranium to 60 percent. According to Iran, the measure is a direct response to the sabotage that occurred on Sunday against the underground nuclear power plant Natanz, which the regime in Tehran and many Israeli media attribute to the Israeli Mossad intelligence service.

What you did was nuclear terrorism. “What we are doing is legal,” Rouhani said in a televised address on Wednesday with Israel.

In light of the escalating tensions, a new round of negotiations now begins in Vienna, where the European Union is hosting. Iran and the United States are involved, but they do not speak directly to each other but to European diplomats as proxies.

It is seen as a success

The first round of talks was widely seen as a success in attempts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany. The agreement has faded since former US President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2018 deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

A European diplomat told Agence France-Presse that Iran’s increased uranium enrichment is now putting pressure on all parties.

It definitely makes things more complicated.

The recent developments serve as a reminder to both sides that the status quo is not in anyone’s favor, according to Ali Fayez, head of the International Crisis Group in Iran.

“It is clear that the longer the diplomatic process lasts, the greater the risk of it being attacked by saboteurs and others with malicious intent,” he told AFP.

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Iran: Peaceful Purposes

The JCPOA nuclear power agreement allows Iranian uranium to be enriched to up to 3.67 percent. In January, Iran raised the rate to 20 percent, and on Wednesday, IAEA inspectors said that Iran had completed in principle preparations for enrichment of up to 60 percent.

To produce nuclear weapons, uranium enriched to about 90 percent is required. But the Tehran regime says it has peaceful purposes only through its nuclear energy program, a statement the outside world has questioned.

Analyst Ali Wazih stressed the importance of leaving the talks, a statement in the same spirit as European powers’ indirect choice of Israel earlier this week.

“The only thing that has slowed down Iran’s nuclear energy program over the past two decades is diplomacy, not sanctions or sabotage,” he said.

Pontus Ahlvist / TT

The JCPOA nuclear agreement was signed in 2015 by Iran and the so-called “P5 + 1” – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (France, China, the United Kingdom, Russia and the United States) and Germany.

The agreement aimed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons – after decades of global fear of it.

In return, international sanctions on Iran will be lifted. Among other things, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) provided insight into Iran’s nuclear energy program at the same time that it was drastically curtailed.

But in 2018, US President Donald Trump left the agreement and has since rifted hard. The United States has re-imposed strict sanctions on the country, which affected other countries’ opportunities to trade with Iran.

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Iran confirmed earlier this year that it had started enriching uranium at the same level it was before the nuclear deal. This week, the Tehran regime went further and announced that it would soon fertilize 60 percent – a move billed as a direct response to Sunday’s sabotage of the nuclear power plant in Natanz, which Israel accuses of failing.