Macron, Netanyahu meet to discuss Iran

Macron, Netanyahu meet to discuss Iran

Macron, Netanyahu meet to discuss Iran

Iran's top leader said on Monday he had ordered preparations to increase uranium enrichment capacity if a nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after the USA withdrawal, and he vowed never to accept limits on Tehran's ballistic missile program.

Spinning centrifuges convert the gases into enriched uranium that can be used for reactor fuel and medical isotopes.

Ayatollah Khamenei set out several conditions for staying in the nuclear deal with the remaining world powers, including protection of Iranian oil sales and safeguarding of trade.

He said it would inform the IAEA that "Iran will announce that the process of increasing the capacity to produce UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) will start on Tuesday".

Apart from the U.S. and Iran, the UK, Russia, France, China and Germany had also signed the accord.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had ordered the increase in capacity in a speech Monday, in which he vowed that Iran would preserve its nuclear program despite the USA withdrawal from the landmark 2015 accord.

At the time intelligence experts and diplomats said he did not present a "smoking gun" showing that Iran had violated the agreement, although he may have helped make a case for on behalf of the United States.

Speaking to reporters at a joint news conference with Merkel, the Israeli leader said Tehran wants to conduct a religious campaign in largely Sunni Syria by using Shi'ite militias under its control to convert Sunni Muslims.

Tensions between Iran and the West have resurged since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of world powers' 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran, calling it deeply flawed.

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That document, examined by The Times, is dated by Israel to 2001 and authorizes the Iranian military to enrich uranium hexafluoride (UF6) by centrifuges from three percent to more than 90 percent - levels which suggest that Iran meant to build a nuclear weapon.

The three European powers are scrambling to save the deal - under which Iran curbed its nuclear programme in return for a lifting of global sanctions - as they regard it as the best chance to stop Tehran developing an atomic bomb.

Issacharoff said that despite "differences of opinion" on how to achieve the aim of hemming in Iran on nuclear matters, "we share the same goal".

"I didn´t ask France to withdraw from the JCPOA (Iran deal) because I think it is basically going to be dissolved by the weight of economic forces", Netanyahu told a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron.

The nuclear deal and lifting of punishing nuclear related global sanctions created optimism in Iran after years of economic isolation.

Iran has said it has the option of resuming industrial-scale enrichment now that the USA has withdrawn from the deal.

Still, the threat of US sanctions has put pressure on European countries working with Iran. The Europeans have expressed unease with Iran's ballistic missiles and its efforts to manipulate the politics of the Middle East.

As for curbing Iran's global influence, the supreme leader stressed that "we will continue our support for oppressed nations".

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