Iran has announced that it will intensify uranium enrichment after the mysterious explosion at the Natanz plant

Image taken Monday by the IAEA of the centrifuges at the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, Iran. EFE / EPA / AEOI HANDOUT

Iran warned Tuesday that it will enrich uranium to 60%, two days after an explosion that Tehran accused Israel of damaging a uranium refinery in Natanz, in the center of the country.

Abbas Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister, said “in a letter to Rafael Grossi”, Executive Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that Iran enriches isotope 235 uranium by 20%, well above the 3.75% limit set in the 2015 agreement reported the official news agency Irna.

A 60% refinement would allow it to quickly go to 90% or more required for a military use of this mineral.

Irna It has not specified when these activities will begin, which would be another step in violating Iran’s commitments to the international community to curtail its nuclear program. But according to Press TV, an English-language information channel on state television, the measure will take effect on Wednesday.

The Islamic Republic has always denied equipping itself with a nuclear weapon, arguing that its morals and religion forbid it.

In retaliation for the US sanctions reintroduced by withdrawing from the deal, Iran has withdrawn from most of the major pledges to limit its nuclear activities in Vienna since 2019.

FILE PHOTO: Uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, 250 km south of Tehran, Iran, on March 30, 2005. REUTERS / Raheb Homavandi
FILE PHOTO: Uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, 250 km south of Tehran, Iran, on March 30, 2005. REUTERS / Raheb Homavandi

“Keep the Agreement”

Araghchi also states this in his letter “1,000 additional centrifuges with a 50% higher capacity will be added to the machines at Natanz, in addition to replacing the machines that were damaged” during the explosion that took place on Sunday at that nuclear complex in the center of the country, explained Irna.

The announcements came hours after Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Tehran.

Previously, state television had indicated that Araghchi had left Tehran to go to Vienna, where negotiations are underway to try to get the United States back into the 2015 agreement and bring Iran back into compliance, by changing that Washington lifts sanctions imposed since 2018. .

“We hope it will be possible to maintain the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and that Washington will finally return”, Sergei Lavrov stated at a press conference with Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Lavrov again called on the United States to lift sanctions against Tehran and also criticized the recent European Union (EU) sanctions against eight Iranian officials for their participation in the suppression of the 2019 protests.

“If this decision was taken voluntarily in full negotiation in Vienna to save [el acuerdo sobre el programa nuclear iraní] it is a mistake that would be worse than a crime, ”said Lavrov, urging Europeans to“ take steps to prevent negotiations from failing ”.

View of the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, 250 km south of the Iranian capital Tehran, in this satellite image from Maxar Technologies, obtained by Reuters on April 12, 2021. Satellite image © 2021 Maxar Technologies / Press release via REUTERS
View of the uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, 250 km south of the Iranian capital Tehran, in this satellite image from Maxar Technologies, obtained by Reuters on April 12, 2021. Satellite image © 2021 Maxar Technologies / Press release via REUTERS

“Very Bad Bet”

Tehran accused Israel of sabotaging the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz, central Iran, on Sunday and vowing “revenge”.

According to Tehran, a “minor explosion” caused a power outage, although the damage can be repaired “quickly”.

Washington denied being involved in the incident.

The New York Times, Claiming that the operation was the work of the Israelis, citing an “intelligence officer” in Israel on Tuesday, said “an explosive device was smuggled into the Natanz plant.”

“They thought that what they were doing in Natanz would be to the detriment of Iran … I assure you Natanz will switch to more advanced centrifuges in the near future (…) The Israelis (…) have a really bad effort”, assured the head of Iranian diplomacy.

The discussions in Vienna bring together Iran and the major powers that remain in the agreement (Germany, China, France, the United Kingdom, Iran and Russia) under the auspices of the European Union. Washington is participating, but without direct contact with the Iranians.

Joe Biden, who succeeded Trump in January, announced his intention to return to the Vienna Accord. But so far Tehran and Washington are mutually demanding that the other side take the first step before sticking to their commitments.

“We want […] that all parts of it [acuerdo] put your promise and word into practice and accept all that is signed [en 2015]Iranian President Hasan Rohani stated upon receipt of Lavrov.

With information from AFP

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