4th Step in reducing commitment to JCPOA: 1044 centrifuges at work in Fordow
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi says 1,044 centrifuges are currently operating at Fordow uranium enrichment site as an evidence to the fact that the country has taken in full the fourth step it had promised to reduce its commitments under a landmark nuclear deal with the world powers.
US President Donald Trump, a hawkish critic of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), unilaterally withdrew Washington from the agreement in May 2018, and unleashed the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic in defiance of global criticism.
In response to the US' unilateral move and Europe's failure to help Iran take advantage of economic benefits of the deal, Tehran rowed back on its nuclear commitments five times in compliance with Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA. The Islamic Republic, however, stressed that its retaliatory measures will be reversible as soon as Europe would find practical ways to shield the mutual trade from the US sanctions.
As a first step, Iran increased its enriched uranium stockpile to beyond the 300 kilograms set by the JCPOA, while in the second step, Tehran began enriching uranium to purity rates beyond the JCPOA limit of 3.76 percent.
In the third phase, after the European signatories to the JCPOA failed to meet a 60-day deadline to meet Iran’s demands and fulfill their commitments under the deal, Tehran started up advanced centrifuges to boost the country's stockpile of enriched uranium and activated 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 centrifuges for research and development purposes.
In November 2019, Iran also began injecting gas into centrifuges at Fordow as part of its fourth step away from the JCPOA under the supervision of the IAEA.
The Iranian government in January issued a statement announcing its decision to take the fifth and final step in reducing its commitments under the JCPOA.
The Iranian government announced that from now on, the country will observe no operational limitations on its nuclear industry, including with regard to the capacity and level of uranium enrichment, the amount of enriched materials as well as research and development.
“The fourth step to reduce JCPOA commitments by Iran has been taken in full as a result of which, 1,044 centrifuges are now doing the enrichment work at Fordow site,” Iran's nuclear chief said on Sunday.
He made the remarks in reaction to recent statements by a number of Iranian parliamentarians who claimed that the administration of President Hassan Rouhani has failed to complete the fourth step it had promised to take to reduce the country’s commitments as per the JCPOA.
“The policies related to the fourth step for the reduction of JCPOA commitments have been fully implemented by the Islamic Republic of Iran and we have activated a new wing of Fordow [nuclear facility],” Salehi added.
"Based on the policies adopted to reduce JCPOA commitments, 1,044 centrifuges are doing enrichment [work] at Fordow. Therefore, as the executor of these polices, we have totally fulfilled our duty," the Iranian nuclear chief pointed out.
Under the nuclear deal, Iran had undertaken that these 1,044 centrifuge machines would not enrich uranium, but in line with the policies to reduce JCPOA commitments, the country is now enriching uranium to the amount it requires, and we will stockpile the enriched materials, Salehi noted.
He emphasized that Iran has been faced with a political challenge posed by the global arrogance since the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, which gradually turned to a nuclear challenge, saying, "We finally succeeded in isolating the US in this challenge and this is a very valuable achievement for the Islamic Republic of Iran."
Back in January, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the country is now enriching more uranium than it did before inking the JCPOA with world powers, as the remaining signatories of the landmark accord had failed to live up to their commitments.
“Today, [uranium] enrichment is carried out more than that time [before the deal was reached] and we did not stand idly by. If they (the other deal parties) reduced their commitments, so did we,” Rouhani added.