Iran restarts uranium enrichment toward 20% target, government says

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The resumption of the enrichment process would breach the nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and the international community, implemented in 2016, that froze Iran’s nuclear program in return for a progressive lifting of international sanctions.

The country had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of its intent to continue enriching the uranium at 20%, IAEA spokesman Fredrik Dahl told CNN on Friday.

Iran currently enriches its uranium stockpile up to around 4.5%, which is above the 3.67% cap imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal, but far short of the 90% that is considered weapons-grade. Iran has continually denied its intent to assemble nuclear weapons.

Government spokesman Ali Rabiei said Monday that Iran started the enrichment process a “couple of hours ago” in the Fordow site, noting that the first UF6 enriched uranium will be produced in a few hours, IRNA said.

IRNA added, citing Rabiei, that all the necessary measures, such as informing the IAEA, have been taken.

Last month, Iran’s parliament overwhelmingly endorsed a draft bill aiming to counteract sanctions imposed on its nuclear program and boost uranium enrichment, state-run Press TV said.

“The law obliges the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to produce at least 120 kg of 20% enriched uranium annually and store it inside the country,” the Mehr news agency reported.

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