Iran has reportedly reached 60% enrichment of uranium at its Fordow enrichment plant, marking a dangerous step closer to the country’s goal of obtaining nuclear weapons.
Iran has begun to enrich uranium to higher levels of purity at the underground Fordow site, the country’s nuclear chief said Tuesday.
“We had said that Iran will seriously react to any resolution and political pressure … that is why Iran has started enriching uranium to 60% purity from Monday at the Fordow site,” said Mohammad Eslami, according to Iranian media.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran informed the agency that it had started to enrich uranium at the higher levels.
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Weapons require 90% purity, but the level Iran has reached far exceeds its 20% produced prior to the 2015 nuclear deal, meaning the country far exceeded the 3.67% cap the deal had mandated.
Iran has done so at other sites, but the Fordow site is an underground facility where Iran will likely test its most sensitive nuclear work, Behnam Ben Taleblu, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Fox New Digital.
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Ben Taleblu noted that Iran has enriched uranium to 60% at other sites since April 2021, but the Fordrow development represents a more troubling step in Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.
“More advanced centrifuges and a greater purity of enriched uranium at Fordow is Iran’s way of signaling not just its comfortability, but preference for continued escalation,” Ben Taleblu said. “This is not just about trying to win sanctions relief. It’s about practicing for breakout and getting Tehran closer to the bomb through redundancy.”
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The U.K., France and Germany issued a joint statement to condemn Iran’s move to expand its enrichment operations, but U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday while in Doha, Qatar that he could not confirm the reports.
“As to Iran, I can’t confirm any, any reports about their, their activities,” Blinken told reporters. “It’s something that we’re looking at very carefully and very closely, and what we’ve seen and we’ve spoken up many, many times before is that while we continue to believe that the best way to resolve the challenges posed by Iran’s nuclear program, are through diplomacy.”
Blinken again mentioned Iran’s efforts to add “extraneous issues” to discussions to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which have derailed the talks.
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“We continue to exert pressure on Iran for steps that it’s taking to strengthen its nuclear program in contravention of the JCPOA itself, as well,” Blinken added.
Reuters contributed to this report.