Iran began enriching uranium to 60 per cent purity in order to show its technical capacity after a sabotage attack at a nuclear plant, and the move is quickly reversible if the US lifts sanctions, the Iranian government says.
Talks in Vienna aimed at bringing the United States and Iran back to full compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal have been further complicated by an explosion at Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.
Iran has responded by saying it is enriching uranium to 60 per cent fissile purity, a big step towards weapons-grade from the 20 per cent it had previously achieved. The 2015 pact between Iran and world powers had capped the level of enrichment purity at 3.67 per cent – suitable for generating civilian nuclear energy. Iran denies seeking a nuclear weapon.
“The start of 60 per cent enrichment in Natanz was a demonstration of our technical ability to respond to terrorist sabotage at these facilities,” Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters in Tehran.
“As in previous steps (in curbing Iran’s commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal), … this measure can quickly be reversed for a return to the agreed enrichment level in the nuclear accord if other parties commit to their obligations,” Rabiei said, in remarks streamed live on a state-run website.
Tehran says the Natanz blast was an act of sabotage by Israel, and on Saturday Iranian authorities named a suspect. Israel has not formally commented on the incident.