Iran will resume enrichment in underground plant: President Rouhani

TEHRAN: The president said Tuesday that Iran would resume uranium enrichment in an underground plant south of Tehran in its last step back from a problematic 2015 agreement with the main powers.

The suspension of all enrichment at the Fordow plant in the mountains near the holy Shiite city was one of the restrictions on its nuclear activities that Iran accepted in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions.

But the abandonment of the agreement by Washington in May last year, followed by its reimposition of crippling sanctions, led Iran to begin a gradual suspension of its own commitments in May this year.

Rouhani recalled that, under the terms of the agreement, Iran had retained more than 1,000 centrifuges at the plant that had been running empty since it entered into force.

Starting tomorrow (Wednesday), we will begin injecting gas (uranium hexafluoride) into Fordo, Rouhani said in a speech on state television.

Iran said the entire process would be carried out transparently by inspectors of the UN nuclear control agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The measure is the fourth announced by Iran since it began responding to Washington's abandonment of its commitments.

Iran has repeatedly warned the remaining parties to the agreement, Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia, that the agreement can only be rescued if they help him avoid US sanctions.

European governments have struggled to find a mechanism that allows foreign companies to continue doing business with Iran without incurring sanctions from the United States.

But to Iran's growing frustration, its efforts so far have had no significant impact.

The European Union warned Monday that its continued support for the deal depended on Tehran fulfilling its commitments.

Maja Kocijancic, spokesman for the EU diplomatic chief, Federica Mogherini, said the bloc remains committed to the nuclear agreement.

We have continued to urge Iran to reverse such steps without delay and to refrain from taking other measures that would undermine the nuclear agreement, Kocijancic told reporters in Brussels.

But we have also been consistent in saying that our commitment to the nuclear agreement depends on Iran's full compliance.