Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday said he had ordered preparations to increase uranium enrichment capacity if the nuclear deal falls apart after the US withdrawal, and he vowed never to accept limits on Tehran’s ballistic missile program.
In a speech and series of tweets marking the 29th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Khomeini, Khamenei said “the Iranian nation and government will not stand being under both sanctions and nuclear restrictions. […] The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran must immediately make the preparations for achieving [increased enrichment].”
“The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran is duty-bound to prepare the ground for achieving 190 thousand SWUs,” Khamenei was quoted as saying by Iranian state media, referring to a measure of uranium enrichment capacity. He said that the increase would be “within the framework of the JCPOA for the time being.”
Khamenei’s remarks came as Iran and the Europeans are in talks on how to preserve the nuclear deal after the US withdrew from the agreement.
The Supreme Leader also vowed that Iran would continue its missile development, calling it "a source of power."
"Today the young generation has made Iran the No. 1 missile power of the region," Khamenei tweeted. "Our enemies know that if they hit us with one missile, they will be hit by 10 of them! Missiles are for security, they're a source of power."
Iran will inform the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that preparations will begin on Tuesday, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, was reported saying by state media. “The leader [Khamenei] meant that we should accelerate some process [...] linked to our nuclear work capacity to move forward faster in case needed,” he added.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said last week that Tehran is capable of and prepared to increase the amount and level of its uranium enrichment.
“We have done the needed preparations in different fields to return to the pre-nuclear deal era, but we hope never to reach that point,” Salehi told reporters. “If we decide to develop certain operations, including enrichment, we will be ready to increase production enrichment, for instance,” he added.
Salehi will reportedly inform the IAEA of increased production of UF6 gas meant to be injected into centrifuges banned from use under the nuclear accord.