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Gas injection into new centrifuges showed Iran’s iron will to fight US sanctions: Nuclear chief

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Mohammad Eslami (File photo)

Iran will not shy away from any action to safeguard its national rights against increasing pressures, Iran’s nuclear chief has said, days after the country began to feed gas into cascades of new centrifuges as an immediate response to a fresh round of US sanctions.

Speaking on the sidelines of a weekly cabinet session on Wednesday, Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), told reporters that all of the country’s nuclear activities have been in accordance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and that Tehran will continue to honor the NPT.

On Monday, US Treasury and State departments imposed sanctions on a total of six companies, four based in Hong Kong, one in Singapore, and one in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The US said the firms have helped Iran sell tens of millions of dollars in oil and petrochemical products to East Asian countries.

Later in the day, Iran said it was beginning to feed gas into hundreds of advanced IR-1 and IR-6 machines after notifying the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said the decision was made in line with “the Strategic Action to Lift Sanctions and Protect the Nation’s Rights,” a law passed by the parliament in 2020 to counter the sanctions imposed on the country over its nuclear program.

Eslami echoed those comments, saying Iran was making a tit-for-tat move against the new US sanctions.

“Implementing the Strategic Action to Lift Sanctions, we began to feed gas into advanced centrifuges in order to show to the Americans that Iran has a strong will to secure a removal of the sanctions,” he said.

“[Iran] does not back away from taking any measure in line with safeguarding the Iranian nation’s interests,” the top Iranian official added.

Iran and six world powers signed a historic agreement in 2015 over the country’s nuclear program. The US, a major signatory to the officially-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), unilaterally left the deal in 2018 and re-imposed the anti-Iran sanctions that the accord had lifted.

In defiance of all the long-running diplomatic efforts to save the JCPOA, the US has continued to impose new sanctions against Iran while officially stating that the sanctions regime – introduced by former US president Donald Trump as the “maximum pressure” policy – has been an abject failure.

“The Americans repeatedly acknowledge the failure of the maximum pressure policy and have no hopes for this policy,” Eslami said.

Nevertheless, he went on, their unwarranted pressures against the Islamic Republic lay bare their two-facedness.

The AEOI chief also explained that Iran signed the JCPOA and agreed to certain limits on its nuclear activities so as to reduce concerns and accusations that it was after developing nuclear weapons.

“But unfortunately, they (Americans) do not fulfill their own commitments, and instead, bring forth new excuses each and every day and repeat the old accusations on a magnified scale,” he added.

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