Iran starts 20% uranium enrichment

January 4, 2021 - 14:56

TEHRAN – Iran has started the process of enriching uranium to 20% at the Fordow nuclear facility, the spokesman for Iran’s government announced on Monday.

“A few minutes ago, the process of producing enriched uranium to 20% purity has begun. And the first product of UF6 enriched uranium will be produced in a few hours,” Ali Rabiei was quoted as saying by the Tasnim news agency. 

The spokesman also said that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has issued an order stipulating that the recent nuclear law passed by the Iranian Parliament should be implemented, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.

The nuclear law, officially called “Strategic Action to Lift Sanctions and Protect Nation’s Rights,” outlines a step-by-step strategy for Iran to force the West into reconsidering its sanctions policy against Iran by increasing nuclear activities. It stipulates that the Iranian government should take certain nuclear measures such as raising the level of uranium enrichment to 20% and suspending the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in few months if the Western parties failed to honor their obligations under the JCPOA.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said that the latest Iran’s nuclear move was in line with this law. However, he reassured other JCPOA parties that this “remedial action” is “fully reversible.”

“We resumed 20% enrichment, as legislated by our Parliament. IAEA has been duly notified. Our remedial action conforms fully with Para 36 of JCPOA, after years of non-compliance by several other JCPOA participants. Our measures are fully reversible upon FULL compliance by ALL,” Zarif tweeted on Monday. 

Earlier on Friday, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), had said that Iran will raise the level of uranium enrichment up to 20 percent “as soon as possible.”

“We have sent a letter to the representative of the Islamic Republic to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna to submit it to the Agency. This letter was submitted to the Agency on Friday, informing it that we want to start 20% enrichment in accordance with the parliament law,” Salehi said in a televised interview on Friday.

“God willing, we will start enriching [uranium] up to 20% soon. The president should issue an order. Of course, the president has already issued a preliminary order according to which we sent a letter to the Agency and made the announcement. We are just like a soldier having his hand on the trigger, waiting for the commander to issue an order to open fire. We are ready to do this and God willing, we will do it as soon as possible,” added Salehi, a nuclear physicist.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has confirmed that it has received a letter from Iran declaring the country’s intention to start enriching uranium up to 20%.

“Iran has informed the Agency that in order to comply with a legal act recently passed by the country’s parliament, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran intends to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) up to 20 percent at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant,” the IAEA statement has said in a statement.

Iran did not say in the letter when it would raise the level of uranium enrichment up to 20%. But the Monday announcement of Rabiei made it clear that Iran was in no mood to wait for so long to make the nuclear move.


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