Iran Says 60% Uranium Enrichment Response To Israel's "Nuclear Terrorism"

Tanya Simon
April 14, 2021

While the full details are unknown, Natanz was reported to have experienced a blackout, allegedly the result of a cyber attack on its electrical grid.

On Monday, the European Union added eight Iranian security officials, including the head of the Revolutionary Guards, and three prisons to a sanctions blacklist consisting of asset freezes and visa bans over a 2019 protest crackdown.

Israel rarely takes responsibility for attacks like the one in Natanz that Israeli news reports on Monday said could set the Iranian nuclear program back by nine months.

Last week, diplomats from the U.S., Iran and other countries gathered in Vienna to try to reinvigorate the deal.

But both the US and Iran signaled full-steam ahead on Monday with their indirect negotiations, while Iran's foreign minister accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government of trying to derail those talks.

Iran says it has never sought to obtain or develop nuclear weapons, and that it seeks nuclear technology for civilian purposes in the fields of medicine or energy.

America has "shown weakness-the more Iran demands, the more the United States gives in", he added.

"The sabotage won't help talks whose main agenda is to get rid of tough sanctions on Iran".

Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018, re-imposing strict sanctions and pushing to destroy the agreement.

Abbas Araqchi, the Iranian deputy foreign minister, told Press TV that Iran will begin 60% uranium enrichment starting tomorrow.

Iran has demanded the United States lift all sanctions for it to return to compliance with the JCPOA.

In Washington, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called Iran's announcement "provocative" and said the Biden administration was concerned, adding that it called into question Tehran's seriousness on nuclear talks.

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Natanz has been at the heart of those restrictions.

Iran will also install 1,000 additional centrifuges at Natanz and replace damaged IR-1 centrifuges - the oldest and least efficient - with more advanced IR-6 models, significantly increasing its enrichment capacity.

"It looks like Israel is really trying to send a pretty clear message that not only are they unsatisfied with the way things are going from a diplomatic point of view, but also that they are willing to take steps covertly to try to make diplomacy more hard", Henry Rome, a senior analyst at Eurasia Group, told PBS.

So far, there has been no change in plans for Wednesday's meetings.

Iran's announcement of stepped-up enrichment, made Tuesday, has cast a shadow over talks in Vienna aimed at salvaging the tattered 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers that then U.S. president Donald Trump abandoned three years ago.

The talks are being held between the United States and Iran indirectly, with Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China acting as conduits under the chairmanship of the EU.

But if talks continue, there could be an escalation in the region.

On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that Iran would take revenge against Israel. That's the global agreement in which Iran agreed to accept significant limitations on its nuclear program.

The two countries have also been engaged in a shadow war at sea.

Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia's ambassador to the IAEA, said that "those who undertook an act of sabotage against the nuclear facility in Natanz probably wanted to undermine the process of" reviving the nuclear accord.

While that may put him at odds with Biden and his push for nuclear diplomacy, Austin and Netanyahu tried to project close ties, with Austin offering his "personal pledge to strengthening Israel's security".

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