Iran has begun 60 per cent uranium enrichment, the country’s chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi has told state media a day after officials accused Israel of sabotaging a key nuclear site.
Araqchi made his announcement shortly before the resumption of talks in Vienna aimed at reviving Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, an accord Israel fiercely opposed, after former US president Donald Trump abandoned it three years ago.
Last week, Iran and the global powers held what they described as “constructive” talks to salvage the deal, which has unravelled as Iran has breached its limits on sensitive uranium enrichment since the US reimposed harsh sanctions on the country.
The deal had capped the level of purity to which Iran can enrich uranium hexafluoride, the feedstock for centrifuges, at 3.67 per cent, far below the 90 per cent of weapons grade.
Iran in recent months has raised enrichment to 20 per cent purity, a level where uranium is considered to be highly enriched and a big step towards enriching to weapons-grade.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said earlier on Tuesday that an attack on its Natanz nuclear facility which it blames on Israel was a “very bad gamble” that would strengthen Iran’s hand in talks to revive a 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.