Addressing a cabinet meeting, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran can enrich uranium up to 90 per cent purity if its nuclear reactors needed it, adding that ”Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization can enrich uranium by 20 per cent and 60 per cent and if one day our reactor needs it, it can enrich uranium to 90 per cent purity.”
He added that he hopes his successor can clinch a deal to lift US sanctions, implying that nuclear talks will not conclude before his term ends in August.
The Islamic republic has held talks since April in Vienna with major powers on reviving its troubled 2015 nuclear agreement.
The accord offered Tehran international sanctions relief in exchange for limiting its nuclear programme, but was torpedoed in 2018 when former US president Donald Trump withdrew from it and reimposed sanctions.
“The work was ready” to be done, the moderate Rouhani said of the talks, speaking in a televised cabinet meeting.
But “they took away the 12th administration’s opportunity,” he added about his government, without elaborating. “We hope the 13th administration can finish this work.”
The nuclear deal caps the fissile purity to which Tehran can refine uranium at 3.67 per cent, well under the 20 per cent achieved before the agreement and far below the 90 per cent suitable for a nuclear weapon. Iran has long denied any intention of developing nuclear weapons.
Rouhani is set to hand power in early August to the ultraconservative former judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi, who last month won a presidential poll.
Trump’s successor Joe Biden has signalled his readiness to return to the deal and has engaged in indirect negotiations with Iran as the accord’s remaining other state parties, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, hold talks in Vienna.
They have held six rounds of talks, concluding the latest on June 20 without setting a date for a new one.