On Friday, Iran announced that it had reached a uranium enrichment of 60%. The move came less than a week when Iran declared its plan to rump up uranium enrichment to 60%, a controversial move that brings doubt on ongoing negotiations for reviving the 2015 nuclear deal in Vienna.
The statement was made by Iran’s Parliament Speaker Mohammad Baqer Qalibaf. He wrote on Twitter, saying, “pious young” Iranian scientists had been able to enrich uranium to 60% purity. The enrichment came as a response to a cyberattack targeting the Natanz nuclear facility located in Iran’s Isfahan province.
Last Tuesday, the Iranian nuclear agency spokesperson Behrouz Kamalvandi announced his country’s intention to increase uranium enrichment capacity up to 60%. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also confirmed that Iran informed them about its plan to start enriching uranium to 60% purity on Wednesday.
Speaking on the issue, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani stated that “Iran’s move to enrich uranium up to 60% purity is a response to the sabotage at its key nuclear facility”, emphasizing that his country has no desire of building a nuclear weapon. 90% enriched uranium is required for a nuclear weapon.
After Iran announced its plans for 60% uranium enrichment, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken labeled the Iranian move as “provocative”. The move has also been criticized by Britain, France, and Germany, the countries that are shuttling between US and Iranian officials in ongoing nuclear talks in Vienna.
Since the beginning of the year, Iran has enriched uranium 20%, very high compared to the percentage which was agreed as 3.67% under the 2015 nuclear accord. On the other hand, the head of the Iranian delegation for talks in Vienna, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi, advocated his country’s latest move. He said that the move is in accordance with the 26th and 36th articles of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).