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Tehran retaliates against damning UN watchdog resolution – media – Reuters

Uranium enrichment at the Fordow site has been stepped up, Iranian media reported

Tehran has for the first time started enriching uranium to 60% fissile purity at the Fordow facility, Iranian media reported on Tuesday. The claimed surge is believed to be in response to a critical resolution passed by the UN’s nuclear watchdog last week.

Iran already enriches uranium at Natanz, its other major production site, at less than 90% weapons-grade enrichment, but well above the 3.67% limit specified in the Iran Nuclear Agreement of 2015, or JCPOA. The United States abandoned the agreement with Tehran under the administration of Donald Trump, leading to its erosion and effective collapse.

Other measures reported by Iran include upgrading cascade lines with more advanced gas centrifuges to increase production capacity at Fordow, as well as starting up additional lines at Natanz.

Tehran’s action was described as retaliation in a resolution adopted last Thursday by the board of directors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The document, which was drafted by the United States, Britain, France and Germany, decried “insufficient substantial cooperation from Iran” on the question of traces of uranium discovered in 2019 by inspectors at three undeclared sites. He demanded “credible explanations” and Tehran’s full cooperation.

All four sponsoring countries are also signatories to the JCPOA. China and Russia, two other participants in the landmark deal, reportedly voted against the draft document during last week’s closed session.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry rejected the resolution, calling it a form of political pressure from the United States and its allies. Spokesman Nasser Kanaani said on Monday that the country had taken “first steps” in response Sunday evening.

“The implementation of these measures was carried out today in the presence of IAEA inspectors at the Natanz and Fordo enrichment complexes,” added the diplomat, without specifying what had happened.

The JCPOA was supposed to trade an Iranian commitment to limit its nuclear program for an easing of economic sanctions imposed on the country. The aim was to extend the time Tehran would need to create a nuclear weapon, an ambition Iran officially denies encouraging in the first place.

The Trump administration unilaterally withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran. President Joe Biden has negotiated a possible revival of the JCPOA, but no breakthrough has been achieved so far.

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