Iran says 'neither pessimistic nor optimistic' on reviving nuclear deal

Foreign ministry remarks follow UN resolution urging Iran to explain undeclared nuclear activity

A number of new generation Iranian centrifuges on display during Iran's National Nuclear Energy Day in Tehran in April 2021.  Reuters
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Tehran has said it is neither pessimistic nor optimistic about reviving the 2015 nuclear agreement just days after it upped nuclear activity at two of its plants.

In a press conference on Monday, foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani said the US, whose withdrawal from the accord signalled the breakdown of the agreement in 2018, was showing “hints of reluctance” in official policy towards Iran.

His remarks follow UN resolutions urging Iran to co-operate with its nuclear obligations and the launch of a probe into its continuing crackdown on protesters, who have rallied against the government since the death of Mahsa Amini two months ago.

“We believe that the diplomatic process is the best … we are neither optimistic nor pessimistic about the current process,” Mr Kanaani said in comments reported by Fars news agency.

Iran on Tuesday announced it was increasing its stockpile of highly-enriched uranium and would install advanced centrifuges at two plants following the resolution from the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Tehran has upped its production of uranium enriched at 60 per cent, a significant step towards the 90 per cent level required for producing a nuclear bomb, although some experts say a weapon could be made with 60 per cent enriched material. Enrichment was capped at 3.67 per cent under the nuclear deal.

Europe is “under the shadow” of US political decisions, Mr Kanaani said on Monday, also denouncing a UN human rights probe into widespread reports of abuse against protesters.

Iran will not co-operate with the human rights committee, he said, stating: “testing the tested is a mistake.”

The IAEA's chief previously warned there was no progress with Tehran in efforts to restart the now-tattered agreement that aimed to reduce Tehran's nuclear ambitions in exchange for easing sanctions.

Former US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew Washington from the accord in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, which has repeatedly violated its obligations under the deal.

The agency passed the resolution after it raised concerns of the presence of traces of “man-made” uranium particles at three undeclared sites in the country.

In October, it said Iran was racing to expand uranium enrichment at the Natanz nuclear plants, and intended to go further than previously planned.

Tehran has pursued its nuclear agenda with force despite increased sanctions, resisting what it called Mr Trump's “maximum pressure” campaign.

Updated: November 28, 2022, 1:01 PM