Iran to enrich uranium to 60% in response to apparent Israeli attack

Barak Ravid
·2 min read

Iran has informed the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it will begin 60% uranium enrichment, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told reporters as he arrived to Vienna on Tuesday for a second round of nuclear talks.

Why it matters: This will be Iran's most severe violation of the 2015 nuclear deal since the Trump administration withdrew from the agreement in 2018. It's also a serious blow to the ongoing efforts to salvage the deal.

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  • The announcement comes in response to the explosion at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, for which Iran blames Israel.

  • It will leave Iran short of the 90% enrichment necessary to produce a nuclear weapon, but bring Iran closer to that threshold than ever before.

  • Iran had been enriching to 20% since January. That's also the level at which Tehran was enriching prior to the nuclear deal.

  • Araghchi added that another 1,000 centrifuges with 50% more enrichment capacity will be added in Natanz, in addition to replacing the damaged centrifuges.

The state of play: The resumption of the Vienna talks has been postponed from Wednesday to Thursday because a member of the EU delegation tested positive for COVID-19, Araghchi said.

The latest: Shortly after the Iranian announcement, Lebanese and Iranian media outlets reported that an Israeli-owned ship was attacked in the Gulf of Oman. Israeli officials confirmed the reports and said Iran is likely behind the attack.

Go deeper: "Nuclear sabotage" in Iran threatens nuclear talks in Vienna

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