Iran will begin uranium enrichment at its Fordo plant and will install new nuclear equipment at its Natanz facility if it withdraws from the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said in an interview published Wednesday.
The fate of the deal is unclear after the United States withdrew from it on May 8. The other signatory nations – Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France – are trying to salvage the accord, which imposed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.
Iran has two vast enrichment sites, at Natanz and Fordo, both in central Iran between Tehran and Isfahan. Much of Natanz is deep underground and Fordo is buried inside a mountain, factors widely believed to protect them from aerial bombardment.
In the interview with the Young Journalists’ Club, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said new work would begin on the nuclear program on the orders of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He did not specify what kind of new equipment might be installed at Natanz.
“Currently the supreme leader has ordered that the programs be carried out within the parameters of the nuclear deal,” Kamalvandi said.
“And when he gives the order we will announce the programs for operating outside of the nuclear deal for reviving Fordo.”
The agency’s head, Ali Akbar Salehi, announced last week that Iran had begun work on a facility to construct advanced centrifuges at Natanz.
The announcement appeared at least in part to be an effort to pressure the remaining signatories to preserve the 2015 deal.
Kamalvandi accused the United States and other Western countries of applying double standards by opposing Iran’s nuclear program, which he said was purely peaceful, while accepting the nuclear arms program of Iran’s archfoe Israel.
“The West doesn’t criticize the Zionist regime and has even helped them,” Kamalvandi said. “Without the help of the West and America, this regime could never have obtained nuclear weapons.”