Iran enriching uranium with advanced centrifuges, watchdog says

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The Iranian flag is seen in this June 10, 2021, file photo.

Iran is enriching uranium at one of its facilities despite ongoing high-stakes talks to restart a 2015 deal to limit the country’s ability to stockpile nuclear weapons, according to the UN.

The country is enriching uranium up to 20-percent purity with 166 advanced machines at its Fordow plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency said, according to Reuters. Uranium needs to reach a 90-percent purity level to be used for weapons-grade levels.

The information underscores a possible push for leverage from Iran as it meets with western negotiators this week to rework the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a 2015 pact between Iran and the U.S. that limited Iran’s nuclear weapons development in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. The deal was scrapped by former President Trump in 2018.

The U.S. is not at the talks in Vienna this week, but American negotiators are indirectly working to establish the new pact through European representation.

The uranium enrichment at Fordow, a facility previously barred from enriching uranium under the JCPOA deal, is the latest news of Iran’s nuclear development, which has been ramping up for the past month. Iran has already enriched at least 39 pounds of uranium past 60-percent purity. The country is also producing more advanced centrifuges to further enrich the material.

The IAEA is pushing to inspect the Fordow facility, but officials have been locked out of monitoring Iran’s nuclear production at various sites since February.

Tags austria centrifuges Donald Trump economic sanctions Enriching uranium Iran Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal nuclear production Nuclear weapons U.S. vienna

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