Iran has increased its uranium enrichment to near weapons-grade levels, according to a UN assessment. According to reports, increasing tension with the West as both parties attempt to restart negotiations on renewing Tehran’s nuclear agreement.
In April, Iran raised the quality to which it is processing uranium from 20% to 60% fissile purity in reaction to an explosion and power outage at its Natanz facility, which harmed production at the main underground enrichment plant there.
Iran has accused Israel of the attack. The purity of weapons grade is approximately 90%.
Iran’s above-ground experimental enrichment facility at Natanz, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, was utilizing one cascade, or cluster, of sophisticated centrifuges to enrich to up to 60%. On Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) notified member states that Iran was also utilizing a second cascade for this reason.
The action is the latest in a series by Iran to flout the terms of the 2015 nuclear agreement, which set a limit of 3.67 percent purity for uranium refinement. The US and its European allies have warned that such actions may jeopardize negotiations on renewing the agreement, which is presently on hold.
Iran said that its nuclear program is peaceful and that it has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of its enrichment operations. According to Iranian official media, the country’s steps away from the 2015 agreement would be reversed if the US returned to the agreement and removed sanctions.
“If the other parties return to their obligations under the nuclear accord and Washington fully and verifiably lifts its unilateral and illegal sanctions … all of Iran’s mitigation and countermeasures will be reversible,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh was quoted as saying by state media.
Despite Western countries’ concerns that such technology has no conceivable civilian purpose, the IAEA stated on Monday that Iran has made progress on enriched uranium metal.
Although uranium metal may be used to create the core of a nuclear weapon, Iran claims its intentions are peaceful and that it is working on reactor fuel.