Iran Says It Won’t Enrich Uranium Over 60% If Vienna Talks Fail

Iranian Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Chief Mohammad Eslami and Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi attend the opening of the IAEA General Conference at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria, Sept. 20. (REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo)

Iran has no plans to enrich uranium beyond 60% if nuclear talks in Vienna fail, the head of the country’s atomic agency said on Saturday.

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran director Mohammad Eslami said the enrichment levels were related to the needs of the country, in remarks published by the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

“Our targets related to enriching uranium are meeting our industrial and production needs… and those of our people,” he was quoted as saying.

Asked whether Iran plans to enrich beyond 60% purity if the talks fail, he said “No.”

Pundits noted that the statement clashes with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s recently expressed concerns over Iran’s stockpile of highly-enriched uranium, as well as with Iran’s continued hostile rhetoric against Israel.

Iran’s arch-rival Israel, which staunchly opposes the nuclear deal, reportedly warned that the Islamic republic was taking the steps to enrich uranium to military-grade levels of around 90%.

On Friday, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps fired more than a dozen surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, which the country’s semi-official news agency Tasnim said simulated an attack on the Dimona nuclear facility in southern Israel.

“Through a simulation of the Dimona atomic facilities, the Revolutionary Guards successfully practiced attacking this critical center of the Zionist regime in its missile exercise,” Tasnim said.

Eslami, meanwhile, was speaking ahead of the resumption on Monday of talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

The European Union’s foreign service said the meeting would be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran.

“Participants will continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides,” the External Action Service’s statement said.