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Ali Khamenei
Ali Khamenei

Iran comfortable in increasing uranium power; Europe gets the jitters

The Iranian supreme leader has made an open threat to Europe, in apparently the same speech in which Ayatollah Ali Khamenei initially states that “no one is seeking war.” Later, he commented that it would not be difficult for the Islamic Republic to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels amid rising tensions with the U.S.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s comments seem to have come after Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched a coordinated drone attack on a critical oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia. Political analysts believe this is just one way to ‘shake global energy markets’ as authorities allege oil tankers anchored off the coast of the United Arab Emirates were targeted by sabotage. Benchmark Brent crude prices remained around $71 a barrel in early trading Wednesday Iran’s assertions to strengthen their uranium power isn’t good news for the rest of the world. Media reports confirm that the supreme leader has indicated that “reaching the 20percent threshold is difficult, everything else after that becomes easier.”This is his first public statement on the nuclear program since Iran announced it would begin backing away from the accord itself. Currently, Tehran seems to be in a threatening mode, of resume higher enrichment in 60 days if no new nuclear deal is in place, beyond the 3.67% permitted by the current deal between Tehran and world powers.

According to Iranian officials, they could reach 20% enrichment within four days. Though Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, scientists now believe that the time needed to reach the 90% threshold for weapons-grade uranium is halved once uranium is enriched to around 20%.

It was a telling remark from the supreme leader where, till date, Iran has not been known to have enriched beyond 20%. Also, Khamenei has the final say on all matters of state in Iran. Meanwhile, Germany is already trying to salvage its nuclear deal signed way back in 2015.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas arrived in Iran to find “constructive ways” to avert inevitable war as the US continues to tighten the noose on Iran. But Iran’s “strategic patience” is growing short. As of July 7, Tehran will no longer abide by all the requirements of the 2015 nuclear deal, unless European nations can find an effective way to economically incentivize Iran to stay in it despite US sanctions.

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