Hard-hit by sanctions, Iran suspends 20-percent uranium enrichment
Iran has suspended 20-percent uranium enrichment in order to have Western-imposed sanctions lifted, a parliament member told Al Arabiya on Saturday.
Earlier, Foreign Policy and National Security Commission of Parliament Mohammad Hossein Asfari told ISNA news agency that Tehran’s move was a “good will” gesture, hoping that Western countries will lift their sanctions on Tehran.
Fereydoun Abbasi, head of Iran’s atomic energy organization, told ISNA on Oct.31 that Tehran was completing the installation of centrifuges at Fordow uranium enrichment plant.
Twenty percent uranium enrichment is thought to be only a short step toward nuclear-grade enrichment.
U.S. and EU measures slashed Iran’s crude oil exports, hitting its hard currency earnings and contributing to a plunge in the rial’s value. The International Energy Agency estimated its crude exports at 860,000 bpd in September, down from 2.2 million bpd at the end of 2011.
Iran’s currency has recently plunged in what some U.S. officials described as the “most punishing sanctions” ever amassed by the global community seeking to halt Tehran’s suspect nuclear program. The rial has lost more than 80 percent of its value compared with the end of last year, when it was worth 13,000 to the dollar.
Last week, Iran banned the export of around 50 basic goods as the country takes steps to preserve supplies of essential items in the face of tightening Western sanctions.
Iranian traders will no longer be able to export goods including wheat, flour, sugar, and red meat, as well as aluminum and steel ingots, according to a letter from Deputy Industry Minister Seyyed Javad Taghavi published in Iranian media on Tuesday.
The letter also said a further list of banned goods would be announced later.
The Mehr news agency said the ban includes the re-exportation of some goods imported with government-subsidized dollars.
The Iranian government provides dollars at a rate of 12,260 rials each for specified priority goods. On the open market, dollars cost around 32,000 rials.
Many of Iran’s basic imports are transported by sea via container ships.
Food and consumer items are not targeted by sanctions but a growing number of Western shipping companies, are pulling back from trade with Iran due to the complexities of deals, whilst also fearing losing business elsewhere.
This month shipping line Maersk said it was stopping port calls to the country.