1006 GMT May 13, 2021
Iran began 60% uranium enrichment at the Natanz plant, the country's nuclear chief said on Friday, days after an explosion at the site.
"The enrichment of uranium to 60%bis underway at the Martyr Ahmadi Roshan nuclear facility" in Natanz, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said.
"We are producing about nine grams of 60% enriched uranium an hour," Salehi added. "But we have to work on arrangements to drop it to 5 grams per hour."
Earlier, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Qalibaf also said Iranian scientists successfully started enriching 60% uranium at 12:40 a.m. local time (0810 GMT), Reuters wrote.
"The will of the Iranian nation makes miracles that thwart any conspiracy," Qalibaf said on Twitter.
Iran announced this week that it would boost its uranium enrichment to 60% purity in response to the attack Sunday on Natanz that it blamed on Israel.
The Islamic Republic has gradually rolled back its nuclear commitments since 2019, a year after then US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a multilateral deal and began imposing sanctions.
The 2015 deal known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program, AFP wrote.
Under the accord, Iran had committed to keep enrichment to 3.67%, but it had stepped this up to 20%in January.
Diplomatic negotiations aimed at ensuring the return of the United States to the JCPOA resumed this week in Vienna.
Seyyed Abbas Araqchi, Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator at nuclear talks in Vienna, said earlier this week that Iran would activate 1,000 advanced centrifuge machines at Natanz.
Britain, France and Germany – the European parties to the JCPOA – have expressed "grave concern" over Iran's latest enrichment move, while also rejecting "all escalatory measures by any actor".
President Hassan Rouhani on Thursday rejected those concerns over the move, saying Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful.
Rouhani said in televised remarks that it was a "mistake" for Europe and the United States to express concerns that the move "means we can enrich to 90 percent in one go".
"Today, we can enrich to 90% if we want to. But we have declared it from day one and we're keeping our word: our nuclear activities are peaceful; we are not seeking to obtain the atomic bomb."
Rouhani said that Iran would swiftly return to fulfilling "all its obligations" after the Americans and Europeans resumed their own commitments.