Dubai-Iran said Tuesday that it would begin concentrating uranium to 60 percent purity in a move to bring fissile material closer to bomb-friendly levels after accusing Israel of interfering with major nuclear facilities.
This disclosure was made shortly before the resumption of talks in Vienna aimed at reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with the great powers.
The purity of fissile material is 90%, which makes it suitable for nuclear bombs.
Prime Minister Abbas Arakuchi, head of nuclear negotiations, announced a 60% enrichment of 1,000 advanced centrifuges at Natanz, a nuclear power plant that was hit by a Sunday explosion that Teheran called Israeli sabotage. Said to work.
However, Iranian officials later told Reuters that “60 percent enrichment will be small.”
“From tonight, practical preparations for a 60 percent enrichment will begin in Natanz. Semi-official Fars News Agency, as spokesman for Iran’s nuclear program, Bellows Kamalbandi, said 60. He said that percent of uranium is used in the production of various radiopharmaceuticals.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations nuclear monitoring agency, said it had been informed of Iran’s decision.
In Washington, White House spokesman Jen Psaki called Iran’s announcement “provocative,” saying the Biden administration was concerned and questioning Tehran’s seriousness over nuclear negotiations.
Last week, Iran and the world’s major powers held what they called “constructive” talks to bail out the 2015 agreement that was unraveled because Iran violated the limits of uranium enrichment.
The agreement limited the level of purity at which Iran could concentrate uranium hexafluoride, the raw material for centrifuges, to 3.67 percent, well below the 90 percent required for bomb-grade materials.
In recent months Iran has increased its enrichment to 20% purity. This is a level at which uranium is considered highly enriched and is an important step towards the weapons grade. 35% is, broadly speaking, the level needed to operate a private nuclear power plant.
The biggest obstacle to the production of nuclear weapons is the accumulation of sufficient amounts of fissile material (90% enriched uranium or plutonium) in the nucleus of the bomb.
One of the central objectives of the 2015 Nuclear Containment Agreement was to extend the time Iran needed to do this from about 2-3 months to a year, if selected.
Iran says it has never tried to obtain or develop nuclear weapons and is seeking civilian nuclear technology in the medical or energy arena.
Western intelligence believes that Iran had a secret nuclear weapons program that was discontinued in 2003, but its archenemy Israel believes it is somehow continuing, and Tehran’s nuclear activity exists. Is considered a threat to Israel.
Iran’s chief diplomat said on Tuesday that the explosion at the underground Natanz factory blaming Israel was a “very bad bet” to boost Tehran’s leverage in negotiations to bail out nuclear deals.
“We guarantee that more advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges will be installed at the Natanz facility in the near future,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a press conference with a Russian correspondent visiting in Tehran. Told.
Nuclear negotiations are scheduled to resume in Vienna on Thursday.
Tehran said the explosion in Natanz, where electricity was knocked out in the centrifuge production hall, was a sabotage by Israel and vowed to take revenge on what appears to be the latest episode of a long-running secret war.
Israel, which is not recognized by the Islamic republic, has not officially commented on the issue.
U.S. President Joe Biden must resume full compliance with the curb of its enrichment efforts mandated by the agreement that Iran won to lift all international sanctions on Tehran before Washington rejoins the agreement. He said he had to.