US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the outgoing administration’s most vocal Iran hawk, has said the Islamic Republic should not enrich uranium at any level, as Tehran threatened to expel international inspectors unless US sanctions were lifted.
Iran “should not be allowed to enrich uranium at any level,” Pompeo said, according to remarks published on the US State Department’s website on Saturday. He accused the Islamic Republic of “threatening regional security” through its nuclear energy program.
The United States, under President Donald Trump, abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and others – which has been hailed by much of the world as a pillar of regional and international security – three years ago and restored the “toughest ever” sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The unilateral measure prompted Iran to announce a set of nuclear countermeasures as it has been allowed under the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Last week, Iran announced it had resumed the process of enriching uranium to 20 percent purity at its Fordow nuclear facility.
The measure was taken under a law, dubbed the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, which the Parliament had approved late last year, giving the next US administration until February 21 to remove the sanctions.
The law also allowed the Islamic Republic to expel the United Nations nuclear watchdog inspectors if Washington failed to resume its commitments under the JCPOA.
On Sunday, Ahmad Amirabadi Farahani, a senior parliamentarian, reminded that “as long as the sanctions are not lifted, we do not see any reason for the implementation of our obligations.”
“Implementation of the obligations without removal of the sanctions is against the Iranian nation’s interests,” he added, asserting that the sanctions have to be lifted especially in the financial, banking, and oil sectors.
Pompeo accused Iran of “breaching” the nuclear pact by resuming 20-percent-level uranium enrichment and alleged that the law amounted to “nuclear brinksmanship.” He further accused the Islamic Republic of “using its nuclear program to extort the international community.”
“The United States fully supports the IAEA (the UN International Atomic Energy Agency)’s continued professional and independent verification and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program,” he said. “Iran’s expulsion of international inspectors must be met by universal condemnation,” the US official added.
The top diplomat’s remarks overlooked Washington’s dark history of being the only country in the world to ever deploy nuclear weapons as well as its departure from nuclear weapon control regimes with Russia under Trump.