Iran’s nuclear activity is worrying, Saudi official says


FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flies outside the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 23, 2021 . REUTERS / Leonhard Foeger / File Photo reuters_tickers

This content was published on July 9, 2021 – 08:36

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia is concerned about the increase in Iran’s nuclear activities which threaten regional security, a Saudi foreign ministry official said after Tehran started the process of producing enriched uranium metal.

The UN nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday that Iran has started the enrichment process, a move that could help it develop a nuclear weapon and has been criticized by the United States and European powers. .

Iran has said its measures are aimed at developing fuel for a research reactor, not producing a nuclear weapon.

Washington and its European allies saw the move as a threat to talks to revive a 2015 deal that imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities in return for the lifting of international sanctions.

Riyadh “is very concerned about the acceleration of Iran’s nuclear activities and the development of capabilities (…) which are not compatible with peaceful objectives,” the Saudi official said in response to a request for comment from Reuters.

The official said that Iran’s measures to produce uranium enriched to 60% fissile purity and uranium metal to 20% “represent a growing threat” to regional security and the non-proliferation of weapons.

They hamper efforts to reach “a comprehensive nuclear deal that ensures global and regional security and stability,” the official said.

World powers have been in talks with Tehran since early April to revive the 2015 accord. Washington withdrew from the pact three years ago and Iran has responded by gradually violating its restrictions.

The United States said Wednesday it expected a seventh round of indirect US-Iran talks to take place “at the appropriate time,” but did not specify when.

Uranium enriched to 20% can be used in research reactors. But France, Britain and Germany, all parties to the 2015 deal, have said Iran’s production of uranium metal has no civilian credibility but could have potentially serious military implications.

Saudi Arabia, which is locked in a regional power rivalry with Iran, called for a firmer and longer deal that also addresses Gulf Arab concerns over Tehran’s missile program and support for agents in the region.

Riyadh and Tehran, which broke off relations in 2016, launched direct talks in April aimed at containing tensions.

(Reporting by Ghaida Ghantous, edited by Timothy Heritage)

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