Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it plans to enrich 20 percent pure uranium at its Fordo nuclear underground facility. Iran succeeded in enriching uranium of this purity prior to the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with Western states.
IAEA announced Iran’s declaration. According to the agency’s statement, the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization plans to produce up to 20 percent low-enriched uranium in order to comply with a legislation recently passed by the country’s assembly.
This move was one of the last notifications to the UN Atomic Energy Agency that Iran is planning to pull out of the deal. Tehran began violating the agreement in 2019 in retaliation for Washington’s withdrawal from the deal and the reintroduction of US sanctions.
This step was also one of many steps mentioned in a law passed by Tehran last month, which blamed Israel for the killing of the country’s most important nuclear physicist last month. Such moves by Iran could complicate efforts by US President Joe Biden to rejoin the deal.
An IAEA statement seized by Reuters news agency and sent to member states also includes a December 31 declaration from Iran. The statement said, “Iran’s letter to the institution did not indicate when this enrichment activity would take place.”
It is stated that the Fordo nuclear facility was built inside a mountain to protect it from air bombardments, and the 2015 agreement does not allow uranium enrichment at this facility. However, Iran is still enriching the first generation IR-1 centrifuges in Fordo.
Iran has violated the agreement’s uranium enrichment limit of 3.67 percent, but has so far only reached 4.5 percent purity, well below the 20 percent it had achieved before the deal and the 90 percent required for the nuclear weapons phase.
The main goal of the agreement was to increase the time it would need to produce sufficient fissile material from roughly two to three months to at least a year if Iran wanted a nuclear bomb. The agreement also lifted international sanctions against Tehran.
US intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe that Iran has a secret, coordinated nuclear weapons program and was halted in 2003. Iran denies this claim.