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Iran says starts enriching uranium to 60% at Fordo plant


TEHRAN: Iran has started producing up to 60% enriched uranium at its Fordo plant, which reopened in 2019 amid the breakdown of a nuclear deal with major powers, reports say. on Tuesday.
“Iran has started producing uranium enriched to 60% for the first time at the Fordo plant,” Iran’s ISNA news agency reported.
An atomic bomb requires uranium to be enriched to 90%, so 60% is an important step towards weapons-grade enrichment.
Iran has always denied any ambition to develop an atomic bomb, insisting its nuclear activities are only for civilian purposes.
Under a landmark deal signed in 2015, Iran agreed to close the Fordo plant and limit its uranium enrichment to 3.67%, which is sufficient for most purposes. civilian, as part of a package to limit nuclear activities aimed at preventing the country from secretly developing nuclear weapons. weapon.
In return, the powers agreed to relax sanctions they had imposed on Iran’s nuclear program.
But the deal began to fall apart in 2018 when US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the agreement and re-imposed crippling economic sanctions.
The following year, Iran began reneging on its commitments under the agreement. It reopened Fordo and started enriching uranium to higher levels.
In January 2021, Iran said it was working to enrich uranium to 20% at Fordo. A few months later, another Iranian enrichment plant reached 60% enrichment.
US President Joe Biden has expressed his desire for Washington to return to a restored agreement and interim talks that have been underway since last April.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said late last month that he saw little chance of restoring the deal, as Iran battles nationwide protests over the death of a moral police officer in September against with Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman.
The heavily guarded Fordo plant about 180 kilometers (110 miles) south of the capital Tehran, was built deep underground to protect it from air or missile attacks by Iran’s enemies.
The arch-enemy Israel has never ruled out military action if deemed necessary to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon capability.
Israel is widely suspected to hold the region’s only if undisclosed nuclear arsenal, although it repeatedly refuses to confirm or deny that it has nuclear weapons.
Implementation of the 2015 deal is overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency, but the UN watchdog’s relationship with Iran has plummeted in recent months.
The IAEA Board of Governors passed a resolution on Thursday criticizing Iran for its lack of cooperation.
Iran said on Monday that it was taking retaliatory measures against the International Atomic Energy Agency over a resolution criticizing Tehran’s lack of cooperation with the nuclear watchdog.
The ISNA news agency said the upgrade at Fordo was part of Iran’s response.
“At the same time, in a second act in response to the resolution, Iran injected gas (uranium hexafluoride) into the IR-2m and IR-4 stages at the Natanz plant,” it said, referring to an enrichment facility. older.

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