IAEA: Iran almost ready to start enriching uranium to 60% purity

UN atomic watchdog says Iran is almost ready to start enriching uranium to 60% purity at Natanz.

Elad Benari ,

Vienna International Centre, where IAEA offices are located
Vienna International Centre, where IAEA offices are located
iStock

Iran is almost ready to start enriching uranium to 60% purity at an above-ground plant at Natanz and plans to add 1,024 first-generation IR-1 centrifuges to the plant, the UN atomic watchdog said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

The statement by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) came a day after Iran announced it 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 Agency today verified that Iran had almost completed preparations to start producing UF6 enriched up to 60% U-235 at the Natanz Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP),” the IAEA said Wednesday, referring to uranium hexafluoride, the form in which uranium is fed into centrifuges for enrichment.

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.

The deal also says Iran can only produce enriched uranium with up to 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges at its underground Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz. While it has broken that rule by adding more advanced centrifuges to the FEP, until now it has stuck to the limit on the number of IR-1 machines there.

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.



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