The head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, said that Iran delivered a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency announcing that it intends soon to start the process of enriching uranium to 20%.
Salehi added – in statements to Fars – that taking this measure is an implementation of the Iranian parliament’s decision to lift sanctions and preserve national interests.
Salehi explained that the IAEA was informed that the fertilization process would be under its supervision.
He pointed out that starting the process requires changes in the devices that were enriched by 4% and converting them into devices that enriched with 20%.
Salehi confirmed that the organization is waiting for an order from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to implement this, and that the enrichment will take place at the Fordo nuclear facility.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran had informed it of its intention to produce 20% enriched uranium, a rate much higher than that stipulated in the nuclear agreement.
The agency indicated that Iran would carry out enrichment operations at the Fordo underground facility, in implementation of a law passed by the Iranian parliament, and added that Tehran did not clarify when the enrichment activities would start.
The Iranian move is the latest in many announcements that Iran recently reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which included abandoning commitment to more terms of the nuclear agreement that was reached with the major powers (5 + 1) in 2015, steps that it began in 2019 in response On Washington’s withdrawal from the agreement and re-imposing sanctions on it.
This step was among the steps contained in a law passed by the Iranian parliament last month, in response to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh – who is the largest nuclear scientist in the country – and Tehran blamed Israel for his assassination.
Such steps by Iran would complicate efforts by US President-elect Joe Biden to return to the nuclear deal.
Biden had declared his adherence to the nuclear deal, from which outgoing President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018, and re-imposed harsh sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The nuclear agreement stipulates that the percentage of uranium enrichment will be set to less than 4%, while the percentage required to build nuclear weapons will reach 90%.
The primary goal of the agreement was to extend the time that Iran might need to produce enough radioactive materials for a nuclear bomb, if it decided to do so, to at least a year, from an approximate period of two to three months, and the agreement lifted the international sanctions imposed on Iran.
US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe that Iran had a secret and coordinated nuclear weapons program that it stopped in 2003, and Iran denies having such a program at any time.