TEHRAN: Iran said on Monday that it remained “optimistic” about a possible revival of the 2015 nuclear deal, even as the head of the country’s atomic energy organisation expressed his country’s reluctance to pursue the weaponisation of nuclear materials.

Iran has the technical capability to produce an atomic bomb but has no intention of doing so, the Fars news agency quoted Mohammad Eslami as saying.

Iran is already enriching uranium to up to 60% fissile purity, far above a cap of 3.67% set under Tehran’s now tattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Uranium enriched to 90% is suitable for a nuclear bomb.

Eslami reiterated comments made by Kamal Kharrazi, a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in July.

US sanctions six companies for helping Iranian oil trade

Separately, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Nasser Kanani told a news conference that Tehran “remain[ed] optimistic that the negotiation process will lead us to a logical and reasonable outcome” after the European Union tabled a proposal aiming for a compromise in the talks stalled since March.

The comment came after EU foreign policy chief and coordinator of the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, Josep Borrell, last Tuesday submitted a new draft text and urged the different sides of the negotiations to accept it or “risk a dangerous nuclear crisis”.

Borrell said the draft text includes “hard-won compromises by all sides” and “addresses, in precise detail, the sanctions lifting as well as the nuclear steps needed to restore” the 2015 pact.

“We will probably see a new round of negotiations,” Kanani added, but noted that “it depends entirely on the willingness of the other side, especially the American side.” The 2015 agreement gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its atomic programme to guarantee that it could not develop a nuclear weapon — something it has always denied seeking.

ANWAR IQBAL ADDS FROM WASHINGTON: The US on Monday designated six entities for allegedly facilitating illicit transactions of Iranian petroleum and petroleum and petrochemical products, the key sources of revenue for the Iranian government.

The action has serious consequences for countries like Pakistan that are looking at the option to buy oil and gas from Iran. The allegedly violators on the US Department of State’s list include Pioneer Ship management PTE LTD, a company that managed one liquified petroleum gas tanker, for serving as the commercial manager for a vessel that transported Iranian petroleum products.

The Golden Warrior Shipping, Co. Ltd., has been designated for providing logistical support to the Iranian petroleum trade. The department also identified the vessel Glory Harvest as a block property of Golden Warrior Shipping Co. Ltd.

Additionally, the US Department of the Treasury designated four entities that support Iran’s Persian Gulf Petrochemical Industry Commercial Co., a US-designated entity, for continuing the sale of Iranian petroleum products and petrochemical products abroad.

Published in Dawn, August 2nd, 2022

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