Iran vows to ramp up uranium enrichment closer to weapons-grade

Andrew Cummings
April 14, 2021

That's the worldwide agreement in which Iran agreed to accept significant limitations on its nuclear program. Enriching uranium to 60% purity would push Iran much closer to weapons-grade levels, which is 90%, and well beyond the 3.67% limitation on uranium enrichment set by the 2015 nuclear deal. Israel has not claimed responsibility, but is widely believed to have carried out the attack.

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.

Last week, all sides agreed to the establishment of two working groups of experts to hammer out exactly what steps Iran and the USA will have to take to return to compliance with the 2015 deal. Meanwhile, the Biden administration has maintained there will be no sanctions relief until Iran complies with the deal again, though the State Department said last week that the U.S. is willing to lift sanctions "inconsistent" with the accord.

Israeli media reported on Sunday that its Mossad intelligence agency was behind a blackout on Iran's underground Natanz nuclear facility in what seems to be a major setback for its nuclear program. In May 2018, then-President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era pact, raising tensions with Iran and setting off a series of events that raised fears of a new war in the Middle East. Israel, which views Iran as a threat, has consistently been a vocal opponent of the JCPOA and any efforts to restore the pact.

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He said authorities would add another 1,000 "more-advanced" centrifuges to Natanz as well.

Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif vowed "revenge against the Zionists", a reference to Israel, but said the incident would not affect talks over the nuclear deal. Russian Federation is a member of the nuclear deal. The Iranian delegation is under strict orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei not to talk to the United States face-to-face.

Kochavi said the Israeli army's activities in the Middle East "are not hidden from the eyes of the enemy, that they are watching us, they see our capabilities". "For this reason, Iran's enrichment will not be limited to 20%, and we will take whatever action is necessary for the country". However, the Islamic Republic now has no such ships in its navy.

Alireza Zakani, the hard-line head of the Iranian parliament's research center, referred to "several thousand centrifuges damaged and destroyed" in a state TV interview.

But a good number are also related to other issues - from alleged terrorist activities, to human rights violations, to Iran's support for militias in neighbouring countries, and Iran's development and testing of ballistic missiles. However, no other official has offered that figure and no images of the aftermath have been released.

In the past two years, Iran has developed, tested and installed new, advanced centrifuges that have altered the calculation on which the limits set by the 2015 deal was based. "They should know that these actions would only make the situation hard for them".

Sima Shein of the Institute for National Security Studies says Iran will try to retaliate for these and especially for the Natanz attack.

A shadow war between Israel and Iran hangs ominously over the resumption of critical talks in Vienna on Wednesday, aimed at returning Iran and the United States to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

But Netanyahu repeatedly warned of the threat from the "fanatical regime in Iran" and said Israel will "continue to defend itself against Iran's aggression and terrorism" - while Austin made no mention of Iran in his brief remarks. But the announcement that it would enrich uranium further shows how pressure has been growing within Iran's theocracy over how to respond to the attack.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told Lavrov that Iran expects a "return to 2015's agreements and obligations".

Other reports by iNewsToday