Russia wanted to show its support for Tehran with a visit from its foreign minister

Iran to enrich uranium to 60 per cent, endangering return to nuclear deal

SPUTNIK/ALEXEI DRUZHININ via REUTERS - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

The Vienna talks seem to be on the back foot. The Biden administration's determination to reinstate the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran has only made the political atmosphere in the Middle East more tense. Russia, a participant in the Vienna talks, has sought to show its support for Iran through the visit of its foreign minister Sergei Lavrov to Tehran.

The Russian foreign minister did not miss the opportunity to accuse the European Union of undermining efforts to revive the nuclear agreement as a consequence of the sanctions it has imposed against eight Iranian military and police officers, as well as three entities for human rights violations during the popular protests of 2019.

These sanctions imposed by the EU are announced at a crucial moment for the reactivation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), especially when it has been the EU itself that has played a decisive role in relaunching talks between the different countries that have signed the pact. Both Brussels and Moscow have worked together to preserve the pact since former US president Donald Trump decided to abandon it in 2018. 

Atalayar_Rusia e Iran

Russia has openly criticised the EU's attitude for what they see as a serious mistake in the light of the sensitive talks scheduled to take place in Vienna: "If there is any kind of coordination lacking in the EU, that's simply unfortunate. But if this decision has been deliberately taken amid the talks continuing in Vienna to rescue the JCPOA then it is not just unfortunate — this is a mistake that is worse than a crime," Serguei Lavrov harshly stated.

Iran, which a few days ago suffered an attack on its Natanz nuclear plant, has declared that this incident will not undermine its position at the negotiating table with the United States and has already announced that it intends to begin enriching uranium to 60 per cent in response to the sabotage.

Atalayar_Rusia e Iran

Iran's chief negotiator, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, explained that "the Natanz incident has strengthened our determination for progress in both the nuclear field and negotiations. Contrary to what some may think", in a clear reference to Israel. Iran pointed to the Jewish state from the outset as responsible for the attack with the aim of damaging the ongoing negotiations. Israel has already shown its dissatisfaction with the US decision to take up the JCPOA and has expressed that the best option is the "policy of maximum pressure" that former US president Donald Trump had put in place.

The "sabotage" of Iran's Natanz plant in Iran resulted, according to the head of the Parliamentary Research Centre, Alireza Zakani, in thousands of centrifuges being damaged and the plant being rendered useless for the uranium enrichment process. This attack has been the ideal excuse for the Asian country to renew the plant's machinery and install 1,000 new centrifuges with 50% more capacity.

Atalayar_Planta de Natanz

Despite this decision by the Ayatollahs' regime, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed his confidence in "saving the agreement" and urged the United States to "return without delay to its JCPOA commitments and lift all sanctions". Lavrov also shared that he sees Iran as open to negotiation and that everything depends largely on what the country presided over by Joe Biden does.

Iran's decision to increase uranium enrichment is nothing more than another pressure measure to speed up negotiations and provoke the United States to take the first step by lifting the sanctions imposed on the Persian country. While the talks are taking place, the situation in the Middle East is becoming more complicated, especially with regard to the increasingly tense relationship between Israel and Iran, which is perpetrating continuous attacks such as the one on the Natanz power plant or the latest one against an Israeli ship that the Jewish state blames on the Islamic Republic.

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