Tehran revealed it will break through its internationally-agreed limits on the amount of low-enriched uranium it keeps in 10 days. The announcement is a threat to signatories to the Iran nuclear deal, pressuring them to ramp up action to save the agreement after the US pulled out last year. Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said on state TV: “We have quadrupled the rate of enrichment and even increased it more recently, so that in 10 days it will bypass the 300 kg limit.
“There is still time for the Europeans. But the Europeans have expressed indirectly their inability to act. They should not think that after 60 days (deadline set in May by Iran), they will have another 60-day opportunity.”
Iran said it would reduce compliance with the Iran nuclear deal, struck in 2015, in protest at Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement and reimpose sanctions last year.
Tensions are at an all-time high, with the US last week accusing Iran of attacking two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
Iran denies any involvement in the explosions, despite the US releasing video footage showing what they claimed to be an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded missile from the Japanese boat struck on Thursday.
The owner of the Kokuka Courageous said its crew witnessed something flying at the vessel.
The Iran nuclear deal promises economic incentives if Tehran stops its activities which could equip it to build a nuclear weapon.
Speaking at the Arak heavy water facility in a live broadcast, Mr Kamalvandi said Iran needs 5 percent enrichment for its nuclear power plant in the southern port of Bushehr, and 20 percent enrichment for a Tehran research reactor.
The 20 percent level is only one step away from weapons-grade material.
When uranium is mined, it typically has about 140 atoms of an unwanted isotope, U-238, for every atom of U-235.
Refining it to a purity of 3.67 percent, the level now allowed by the nuclear deal, means removing 114 unwanted atoms of U-238 for every atom of U-235.
The spokesman noted that boosting its purity to 20% means removing 22 more unwanted isotopes per atom of U-235, while going from there to 90 percent purity means removing just four more isotopes per atom of U-235.
Ninety per cent purity is considered weapons-grade material.
This means that going from 20 percent to 90 percent enrichment is a relatively quicker process, something that worries nuclear non-proliferation experts.
Mr Kamalvandi acknowledged that Iran has already quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium.
Published at Mon, 17 Jun 2019 09:07:00 +0000