Damage at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility
Damage at Iran's Natanz nuclear facility Reuters

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

Speaking in Vienna, where talks are underway over Iran's nuclear weapons program, Araghchi said that the Islamic Republic would enrich uranium to 60% purity, far above the 20% it had been enriching uranium to previously, the state-run IRNA news agency reported. The move would shorten Iran's breakout time to being able to construct a nuclear weapon.

The report also stated that Iran would add 1,000 new centrifuges to the Natanz facility.

Earlier, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Israel had made a “very bad gamble” by sabotaging the nuclear facility in Natanz.

Speaking at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Tuesday morning, Zarif downplayed the impact of the apparent bombing – widely attributed to Israel – saying that the damaged uranium enrichment centrifuges would soon be replaced with more advanced equipment.

“I assure you that in near future more advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges will be placed in the Natanz facility.”

Two intelligence officials told the New York Times on Sunday that the attack at the Natanz facility had dealt a serious setback to Iran's nuclear program and the damage would take nine months to fix.