Despite a recent understanding between the Islamic Republic and P5+1 world powers, Iranian officials are waiting for a nuclear deal to come into effect to launch its newest generation of IR-8 centrifuges to enrich uranium, reported Iran’s semi-official FARS news agency.
According to the report, Iran’s nuclear chief and foreign minister told members of parliament on Tuesday in “a closed-door session” that “the country would inject UF6 gas into the latest generation of its centrifuge machines as soon as a final nuclear deal goes into effect by Tehran and the six world powers.”
The IR-8 centrifuge is believed to have the ability to enrich uranium 20 times faster than the current IR-1 centrifuge, which the Islamic Republic currently uses.
Should the report prove accurate, Iran’s move would breach the terms of a nuclear deal, as publicized by the US, and accelerate Iran’s breakout time to obtaining a nuclear bomb.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) chief Ali Akbar Salehi are said to have promised Iranian legislators that the move to use the IR-8 centrifuges are permitted under the terms of the nuclear framework deal.
“The AEOI chief and the foreign minister presented hopeful remarks about nuclear technology R&D which, they said, have been agreed upon during the talks, and informed that gas will be injected into IR8 with the start of the agreement,” explained Javad Karimi Qoddousi, a member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, to FARS.
According to Qoddousi, in the upcoming days, Iran’s Foreign Ministry will release an outline of its understanding of the framework agreement. “Those issues that have stirred serious concern among the Iranians will be revised and released in this fact sheet,” he said.
While some are breathing a sigh of relief with the news of Iran and western powers reaching a deal to move on to the next stage of negotiations, major differences still remain as to what was actually agreed upon.
“Parameters” revealed by the US state that only the most basic, first generation IR-1 centrifuge can be used by Iran. Any other model is banned for at least 10 years.
“Iran will only enrich uranium at the Natanz facility, with only 5,060 IR-1 first-generation centrifuges for ten years,” the US parameters state. “Iran has agreed to only enrich uranium using its first generation (IR-1 models) centrifuges at Natanz for ten years, removing its more advanced centrifuges…Iran will not use its IR-2, IR-4, IR-5, IR-6, or IR-8 models to produce enriched uranium for at least ten years.”
With Iran’s latest dash towards becoming a nuclear power, comments made by US President Barack Obama are leaving many worried about the ability of a nuclear agreement to curtail Iran’s efforts at obtaining the bomb.
In an interview with NPR, the president stated that with or without a deal, Iran will still enrich uranium and ultimately possess nuclear capabilities.
“What is a more relevant fear would be that in year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero,” the president explained. “Keep in mind, though, currently, the breakout times are only about two to three months by our intelligence estimates.”
“Essentially, we’re purchasing for 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year,” he continued. “And then in years 13 and 14, it is possible that those breakout times would have been much shorter, but at that point we have much better ideas about what it is that their program involves.”
Obama’s comments confirming an Iranian breakout time of “zero” by 2028 has resulted in a firestorm of controversy. US State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Tuesday that the president was “a little mixed up” and “muddled” during the interview when explaining Iran’s breakout potential.