Blinken: Iran's uranium enrichment is 'provocative'

Secretary of State blasts Iran’s announcement that it intends to begin enriching uranium at 60% purity in violation of 2015 deal.

Elad Benari ,

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
State Department Photo by Ron Przysucha

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday blasted Iran’s announcement of an intent to begin enriching uranium at 60% purity.

Blinken described the step as “provocative” and added that it raises questions about the seriousness of Tehran over the nuclear talks in Vienna, Reuters reports.

“We take very seriously its provocative announcement of an intent to begin enriching uranium at 60 percent,” Blinken told a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels, referring to Iran.

“I have to tell you the step calls into question Iran’s seriousness with regard the nuclear talks, just as it underscores the imperative of returning to mutual compliance with the JCPOA,” Blinken added, referring to the 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Iranian negotiator Abbas Araghchi announced on Tuesday that Iran would begin enriching uranium to 60% purity, its highest level to date in response to the blackout and explosion which occurred at the Natanz nuclear facility over the weekend.

The move would shorten Iran's breakout time to being able to construct a nuclear weapon.

The announcement has cast a shadow over attempts by Washington to negotiate a renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

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.