FILE PHOTO: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Photograph:( Reuters )
Iran which has resumed enriching to 20 per cent in a bid to heap pressure on the United States has been at loggerheads with Washington over which side should take the initial step to revive the nuclear accord.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that Iran might enrich uranium up to 60 per cent purity if the country needed it adding that the country will never yield to US pressure over its nuclear programme.
Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with six powers which it has been breaching since the United States withdrew in 2018 caps the purity to which Tehran can refine uranium at 3.67 per cent. It is well under the 20 per cent achieved before the agreement and far below the 90 per cent needed for a nuclear weapon.
Upping the ante with President Joe Biden, Khamenei said that Iran's uranium enrichment level will not be limited to 20 per cent and it will increase it to whatever level the country needs.
"Iran's uranium enrichment level will not be limited to 20 per cent, we will increase it to whatever level the country needs, for example, for a nuclear propulsion or other works we may increase enrichment up to 60 per cent, if there is a need for it we will act on it," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.
The Biden administration reacted to the threats saying that the comments were hypothetical and posturing. US State Department spokesman reiterated the willingness of the US to talk with Iran about returning to the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran which has resumed enriching to 20 per cent in a bid to heap pressure on the United States has been at loggerheads with Washington over which side should take the initial step to revive the accord.
Meanwhile, secretary of state Antony Blinken has said that Washington intended to bolster and extend the 2015 pact which aimed to limit Iran's enrichment potential - a possible pathway to atomic bombs - in exchange for lifting most of the sanctions.
"The United States remains committed to ensuring that Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon. Diplomacy is the best path to achieve that goal," Bilken said.
"Working with allies and partners, we will also seek to lengthen and strengthen the JCPOA and address other areas of concern, including Iran's destabilising regional behaviour and ballistic missile development and proliferation. Iran must comply with its safeguards agreements with the IAEA and its other international obligations," Blinken asserted.
The comments come after the UN watchdog IAEA on Sunday reached a deal with Iran that would allow it to continue monitoring the country's nuclear activities for a period of up to three months.