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Trump administration ends sanction waivers for Iran nuclear plant

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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. Late last month following the renewal of the waivers, Republican Sens. Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham condemned the move as aiding Tehran in building up its nuclear stockpile.

“These waivers allow Iran to build up its nuclear program, including at their Fordow nuclear bunker, which they dug out of the side of a mountain to build nuclear weapons,” the senators said in a joint statement. “There is no justification for letting them continue to build on their program.”

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.”

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