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Trump administration ends sanction waivers for Iran nuclear plant

Trump administration ends sanction waivers for Iran nuclear plant
The United States on Monday has revoked sanctions waivers renewed late last month to allow foreign companies to work at Iran's Fordow nuclear facility. Photo courtesy of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/EPA-EFE

Nov. 18 (UPI) -- The United States on Monday revoked recently renewed sanction waivers for Iran's Fordow nuclear facility after Tehran said it had begun enriching uranium at the site, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

"The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world's largest state sponsor of terror is zero," Pompeo told reporters in Washington, D.C.

Pompeo said the United States would be revoking the waivers effective Dec. 15 after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Nov. 7 that the Middle Eastern country would begin enriching uranium at the facility.

The move by Iran was the fourth separation the country has taken from a 2015 multinational nuclear deal aimed at controlling its nuclear industry. Under the agreement, the once secret underground facility was to be transformed into a physics research lab.

"Iran originally constructed Fordow as a fortified, underground bunker to conduct secret uranium enrichment work, and there is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site," he said. "Iran should reverse its activity there immediately."

President Donald Trump last year slapped sanctions against Tehran and wholly pulled the United States from the multination accord but continued to renew waivers allowing foreign companies to work with the country's civil nuclear program to the criticism of hawkish politicians. The waivers were most recently renewed late last month.

On Monday, Pompeo accused Iran supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of using its nuclear capabilities for brinkmanship to force the international community into "accepting the regime's destabilizing activity."

"The only viable way forward is through comprehensive negotiations that address the full range of Iran's threats in their entirety," Pompeo said. "Iran's most recent action is yet another clear attempt at nuclear extortion that will only deepen its political and economic isolation from the world."

House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., applauded Trump and Pompeo for revoking the waivers and called on them to cancel remaining waivers in place under the 2015 deal.

"The administration should now end the waivers for the remaining projects related to the deal, especially the Ark reactor, Iran's heavy water reactor," they said in a joint statement. "We will continue to urge the administration to stop issuing all civil nuclear waivers and call on our colleagues to expeditiously take up legislation, end these waivers and hold Iran accountable."

Last week, the Republican politicians introduced a bill to revoke the civil nuclear waivers established under the Obama-era deal.

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