Iran tells UN it will hike uranium enrichment capacity

An Iranian technician works at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facilities (UCF), 420 kms south of Tehran, 03 February 2007. Iran opened the doors to its uranium conversion plant today in a bid to show its good intentions amid mounting international pressure for a halt its controversial nuclear programme. A delegation of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and Group of 77 representatives arrived at the facility in the central city of Isfahan together with foreign and Iranian journalists for a guided tour. (AFP/BEHROUZ MEHRI)
Updated 05 June 2018

Iran tells UN it will hike uranium enrichment capacity

  • Iran has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency that it has launched a plan to increase its uranium enrichment capacity
  • Iran has begun working on infrastructure for building advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility

TEHRAN: Iran has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency that it has launched a plan to increase its uranium enrichment capacity, nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said Tuesday.
"If conditions allow, maybe tomorrow night at Natanz, we can announce the opening of the centre for production of new centrifuges" for uranium enrichment, said Salehi, a vice president and head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, according to conservative news agency Fars.
"What we are doing does not violate the (2015 nuclear) agreement," he said, adding that a letter was submitted to the IAEA "yesterday regarding the start of certain activities".
He specified that this was just the start of the production process and "does not mean that we will start assembling the centrifuges".
Under the 2015 agreement, Iran can build parts for the centrifuges as long as it does not put them into operation within the first decade.
Salehi also emphasised that these moves "do not mean the negotiations (with Europe) have failed."
European governments have been trying to salvage the agreement ever since the United States announced its withdrawal last month and said it would reimpose sanctions on foreign companies working in the Islamic republic by November.
The other parties -- Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia -- have vowed to stay in the accord but many of their companies have already started to wind down Iranian operations.
On Monday, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the Europeans that "Iran will never tolerate both suffering from sanctions and nuclear restrictions" and called for preparations to speed up uranium enrichment.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is for civilian uses only, but opponents in the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia accuse it of seeking to build an atomic bomb.


Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 21 January 2020

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”