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No going back to nuclear deal if investigation continues

TEHRAN – Iran’s president warned Monday that any roadmap to restoring Tehran’s shattered nuclear deal with world powers must include international inspectors ending their investigation into man-made uranium particles found at undeclared sites in the country.

In a rare press conference marking his first year in office, President Ebrahim Raisi also issued threats against Israel and tried to sound optimistic as Iran’s economy and rial currency have collapsed under the weight of international sanctions.

Despite attracting international attention to the deal while talks in Vienna hung in the balance, it took well over an hour for Raisi to fully acknowledge ongoing negotiations. Tehran and Washington have exchanged written replies in recent weeks on the intricacies of the roadmap, which would lift sanctions on Iran if it curbs its fast-moving nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has for years asked Iran to answer questions about man-made uranium particles found at undeclared sites. US intelligence, Western nations and the IAEA have said Iran had an organized nuclear weapons program up until 2003. Iran has long denied ever pursuing nuclear weapons.

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As a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is obliged to investigate the radioactive traces and assure that they will not be used as part of a nuclear weapons program. Iran was criticized by the IAEA Board of Governors in June for his failure to answer questions about the sites to the satisfaction of the inspectors.

Raisi mentioned the traces – calling them “safety precautions” in IAEA language.

“Without settling protection issues, there is no point in talking about an agreement,” Raisi said.

Under the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran could enrich uranium to 3.67% while maintaining a 300 kilogram (660 pound) uranium stockpile under constant surveillance by IAEA surveillance cameras and inspectors. Then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the deal in 2018, setting the stage for years of mounting tensions.

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According to the latest IAEA public census, Iran has a stockpile of approximately 3,800 kilograms (8,370 pounds) of enriched uranium. Of even more concern to non-profiling experts, Iran is now enriching uranium to 60% purity – a level it has never reached before that is just a short technical step away from 90%. These experts warn that Iran has enough 60% enriched uranium to recycle it into fuel for at least one nuclear bomb.

Amid tensions, Israel is suspected of carrying out a series of attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities. and a prominent scientist. On Monday, Raisi threatened Israel directly.

Raisi said that if Israel decides to carry out its threats to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, “they will see whether there is anything left of the Zionist regime or not.”

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At his first press conference Raisi famously simply said “no” when asked if he would meet with President Joe Biden. Asked again on Monday as the UN General Assembly is due next month, Raisi stuck to his earlier answer.

“There is no benefit in a meeting between us and him,” the president said. “Neither for the Iranian nation nor for the interests of our great nation.”

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Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/world/2022/08/29/iran-president-no-way-back-to-nuclear-deal-if-probe-goes-on/ No going back to nuclear deal if investigation continues

Sarah Y. Kim

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