Iran on Saturday said that it would begin increasing its uranium stockpile limit to 5% at one of its main underground facilities, sparking new criticisms by major powers after a series of steps back from its commitments under the troubled 2015 nuclear deal.
#Iran says, it is now enriching uranium to 5%t, after stepping back from its commitments under the troubled 2015 accord with significant powers.— All India Radio News (@airnewsalerts) November 9, 2019
According to global media, four years ago this deal had set a 3.67% limit for uranium enrichment that was dismissed by Tehran after Washington unilaterally abandoned the agreement last year and reimposed crippling sanctions that hampered the country's economy and foreign assets.
"Based on our needs and what we have been ordered, we are currently producing 5%," said Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran. He also said that Iran has the "capacity to produce 5%, 20%, 60%, or any percentage" of enriched uranium, a claim that has often been repeated by Tehran.
Uranium enrichment is a sensitive process that produces fuel for nuclear power plants but also, in highly extended form, the fissile core for a warhead. The current 5%-level exceeds the limit set by the accord but is less than the 20% Iran had previously operated and far less than the 90% level required for a warhead.
In its fourth step away from the agreement, Iran resumed enrichment at the Fordow plant south of Tehran on Thursday, with engineers feeding uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) into the plant's mothballed enrichment centrifuges. Iran was already enriching uranium at another plant in Natanz, where a United Nations inspector was denied access to the site last week.
Tehran says it would reverse the measures it has taken if the remaining member nations of the 2015 nuclear accord, including the United Kingdom, China, France, Germany, and Russia, find a way to get around US sanctions. On July 1, Iran said it had increased its stockpile of enriched uranium to beyond a 300-kilogram limit set by the deal, and a week later, it announced it had exceeded the enrichment cap. The third movement had it firing up advanced centrifuges on September 7 to enrich uranium faster and to higher levels.
(with ANI inputs)