Natanz nuclear facility in Iran
Natanz nuclear facility in IranREUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/File Photo

Iran’s nuclear chief confirmed on Friday that Iran has begun 60% uranium enrichment at its underground plant in Natanz, Reuters reports.

"We are producing about 9 grams of 60% enriched uranium an hour," Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was quoted as having told state television.

"But we have to work on arrangements ... to drop it to 5 grams per hour. But then we will simultaneously produce 20% (uranium)," Salehi said.

His comments came hours after Iranian parliament speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf said that Iranian scientists had successfully started enriching 60% uranium at 40 minutes past midnight.

"The will of the Iranian nation makes miracles that thwart any conspiracy," Qalibaf said on Twitter.

Iran earlier this week announced it would begin enriching uranium to 60% purity, its highest level to date in response to the blackout and explosion which occurred at Natanz over the weekend and which it has blamed on Israel.

Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers only lets Tehran enrich uranium to up to 3.67% purity. However, it has breached that limit as part of its scaling back of its compliance with the deal in response to Washington’s withdrawal from the deal under President Donald Trump.

Iran’s announcement on uranium enrichment has cast a shadow over attempts by Washington to negotiate a renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal.

President Joe Biden has indicated a desire to return to the deal. Indirect talks between Washington and Tehran started last week in Vienna and ended without progress.

Despite Iran’s announcement on the uranium enrichment, the White House said on Tuesday it remains committed to nuclear negotiations with Iran.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)