Uranium enrichment progresses: Iran announces violations of the nuclear pact

Uranium enrichment is progressing
Iran announces nuclear pact violations

Iran wants to continue violating the 2015 nuclear pact and enrich uranium. The country is far from being able to use it for nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, the announcement is likely to cause headache for US President-elect Joe Biden.

According to the UN nuclear regulator IAEA, Iran has announced further violations of the international nuclear agreement. The country had announced in a letter its intention to enrich uranium up to a degree of 20 percent, said the International Atomic Energy Agency. “The letter from Iran to the agency (…) did not specify when this enrichment activity would take place,” the IAEA said.

The move is the latest of several announcements by Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency that the country intends to continue violating the agreement it has been breaking since 2019 in retaliation for Washington’s withdrawal from the agreement and reintroduction of US sanctions against Tehran. The announcement came from the law passed by the Iranian parliament last month in response to the murder of the country’s best nuclear scientist. Tehran blames Israel for the murder.

Enrichment so far only to 4.5 percent

“Iran has told the agency that the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency plans to produce up to 20 percent low-enriched uranium at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant,” the IAEA said in a statement. Fordow was built in a mountain, apparently to protect it from air strikes, and the 2015 nuclear pact does not allow enrichment there.

The 2015 deal stipulates that Iran may enrich uranium up to a maximum of 3.67 percent. However, after US President Donald Trump unilaterally terminated the agreement – also against the will of the European contracting parties – Iran began to gradually write back its obligations from 2019 and enrich uranium to 4.5 percent. Weapons-grade uranium must be enriched up to 90 percent.

Before the nuclear deal was signed, Iran had made it to 20 percent. The aim of the agreement is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. US intelligence and the IAEA believe Iran had a secret, coordinated nuclear weapons program that was shut down in 2003. Iran denies ever having had one and the country has consistently denied allegations that it is secretly seeking nuclear weapons. Iran’s current move could complicate efforts by US President-elect Joe Biden to re-join the nuclear pact.

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