Thursday, November 7, 2019

Pompeo calls for more pressure on Iran, fears ‘nuclear breakout’

In this photo released on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019 by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, a truck containing cylinder of uranium hexafluoride gas leaves Ahmadi Roshan uranium enrichment facility in Natanz to Fordow nuclear facility in the early morning on Wednesday, for the purpose of injecting the gas into Fordo centrifuges. (AP)

ISTANBUL — Iran’s recent steps away from the 2015 nuclear deal it struck with world powers should compel the international community to intensify pressure on Tehran, Secretary of State Mike Pomepo said in a statement Thursday.

The top U.S. diplomat said that Iran’s “nuclear escalations” are aimed at extorting the international community and that the United States “will never allow this to happen.”

He said that Iran’s latest nuclear-related actions raise concerns that Tehran “is positioning itself to have the option of a rapid nuclear breakout.”

Iran this week began injecting uranium gas into centrifuges at the Fordow enrichment facility near the city of Qom. It was revealed as a covert site for Iranian nuclear activities in 2009 and the nuclear deal prohibited Iran from enriching uranium or even bringing fissile material onto the premises.

“It is now time for all nations to reject this regime’s nuclear extortion and take serious steps to increase pressure. Iran’s continued and numerous nuclear provocations demand such action,” Pompeo said.

President Trump withdrew from the multilateral agreement that restricted Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief and reimposed a harsh embargo on the Iranian economy a year ago.

Since then, Iran has breached several of the accord’s restrictions, including caps on the size and purity of its enriched uranium stockpile