Energy & Environment

Iran increasing production of low-enriched uranium, nuclear official says

A top Iranian nuclear official said Monday that the country has increased production of low-enriched uranium, The Associated Press reported.

The AP reported that Atomic Energy Organization of Iran chief Ali Akbar Salehi announced that the Fordo and Natanz facilities are now producing roughly 12 pounds of low-enriched uranium daily.

The wire service said Iran was seen as producing about 1 pound daily before.

"I believe in total, 5.5 kilograms [12 pounds] is the daily volume of uranium enrichment in Natanz and Fordo," Salehi told the AP, referring to two nuclear sites.

The West has long feared the Fordo facility could be used to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels, according to AP.

Tensions have remained high between the U.S. and Iran after the U.S. pulled out of the nuclear deal.

The increase in low-enriched uranium production comes as Tehran has sought to pressure the remaining European nations in the agreement to assist Iran in selling crude despite U.S. sanctions. 

In a speech Monday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also voiced support for working with European nations to save the agreement, reportedly stressing that "by continuing the nuclear deal, we will reach a huge political, defensive and security goal."