Senior Iran Lawmaker: Uranium Enrichment Continuing At 20 Percent

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The U.S. is sending two top negotiators to Geneva for direct talks with Iranian officials over Tehran's nuclear program. (Photo by Getty Images)

The U.S. is sending two top negotiators to Geneva for direct talks with Iranian officials over Tehran’s nuclear program. (Photo by Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – A senior Iranian parliamentarian says that Iran will not suspend its uranium enrichment, contradicting another Iranian lawmaker’s comments last week that enrichment work had been reduced.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of Iran’s foreign policy and national security parliamentary committee, said that uranium enrichment is a “red line” in negotiations with Tehran, and dismissed threats against Iranian research facilities.

“The gloom that surrounded the nuclear facilities at the time is over,” Boroujerdi was quoted by Iran’s Arabic-language news channel Al-Alam as saying Saturday. “Today Iran can take new decisions.”

This is in conflict with comments from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, who had denied reports of enriching uranium up to 20 percent, and the Fordo facility’s continued production, reports the Times of Israel.

Boroujerdi rejected the reports of Fordo’s closure.

“Fordo is one of Iran’s red lines and will certainly not be closed. It has been designed constructed to withstand the most severe threats,” he said. “If the Israeli entity wishes to act foolishly [by attacking it] it will certainly fail, because the Fordo installation is heavily fortified and cannot be struck.”

Enrichment of uranium to 20 percent is held in a sensitive light because it is just a “short technical step” from enriching it to the 90 percent needed to create a nuclear weapon, Reuters reports.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Iran’s entire nuclear program should be dismantled, and the 20 percent enrichment discussion is “irrelevant.”

“We are not impressed by the discourse around the issue of 20 percent enrichment. The Iranians are deliberately focusing the debate on this issue – it is irrelevant,” Netanyahu said in public remarks to his cabinet.

Currently, Iran and six other world powers known as the “P5+1” are negotiating through disputes of uranium enrichment, nuclear power and sanctions imposed on Iran’s economy.

Boroujerdi also rebuffed reports that chants of “death to America” will end due to recent negotiation efforts, saying that slogan will likely be used more frequently.

“The crimes perpetrated by the U.S. against the Iranian people cannot be ignored by simply entering a few rounds of negotiations,” Boroujerdi said.

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