Iran begins 60% uranium enrichment at Natanz site

Clay Curtis
April 17, 2021

Iran began enriching uranium up to 60% purity Friday, its highest level ever, after an attack targeted its Natanz nuclear site, the country's parliament speaker said.

The 2015 nuclear deal, which former president Donald Trump withdrew the United States from in 2018, prevented Iran from stockpiling enough high-enriched uranium to be able to pursue a nuclear weapon if it chose in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

"We are, though, nonetheless, pleased that Iran has continued to agree to engage in discussions, indirect discussions with us and with our partners on how we move forward, and what is needed to allow us to move back into the (Iran deal) so we're part of it again. without us making concessions we're just not willing to make".

Diplomats from the six countries participating told expert-level working groups on sanctions-lifting and nuclear issues "to continue their activities on Saturday afternoon, Sunday and next week" to make further progress, Russian representative Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted.

The Iranian state TV report also said there were images that corroborated the account of an explosion rather than cyberattack offered by security services, but it did not broadcast those pictures.

Iran and global powers are meeting in Vienna to try to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by Washington three years ago.

Journalists wait outside the Grand Hotel where the Iran nuclear talks have resumed in Vienna, Austria, April 6, 2021.

"But we have to work on arrangements.to drop it to 5 grams per hour". The path is now more clear.

China urges U.S. to return to JCPOA immediately, unconditionally

"The path is better known, but it will not be easy path", Araghchi added. "There are some serious differences", he added.

Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful, though the West and the IAEA say Tehran had an organized military nuclear program up until the end of 2003. Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi, along with corresponding officials from Russia, Britain, France, Germany and China, attended the meeting. Iran -by remaining in the deal - passed with flying colours.

An annual United States intelligence report released on Tuesday maintained the American assessment that "Iran is not now undertaking the key nuclear weapons-development activities that we judge would be necessary to produce a nuclear device".

Natanz houses thousands of fast-spinning centrifuges, the machines at the core of the uranium enrichment process.

On Friday, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, confirmed Iran was now producing uranium enriched to 60 percent purity, taking the country closer to the 90-percent level required for use in a nuclear weapon.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has taken to Twitter to challenge Washington's recent questioning of Iran's "seriousness of purpose" in returning to compliance with the JCPOA, saying that Tehran has spent years demonstrating its seriousness, while the Biden administration has so far only demonstrated its commitment to the failed policy of its predecessor.

The officials are hoping to resuscitate a deal that has been on life support ever since former US President Donald Trump announced Washington's withdrawal.

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