Iran’s ambassador to the international organizations in Vienna rejected “odd speculations” about the country’s nuclear program, saying the change in the mode of Iran’s 60% uranium enrichment program is a “technical decision”.
“There is no need for odd speculations. Change in the mode of 60% enrichment is a technical decision and was foreseen in the DIQ which was provided to the IAEA last week before the operation,” Kazem Gharibabadi tweeted on Friday.
Reuters on Thursday released parts of a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency which said Iran has reduced the number of centrifuges enriching uranium to up to 60% purity at the Natanz nuclear facilitate to one cluster from two.
Iran announced the shift to 60 from the 20% it had previously achieved, in response to an act of sabotage at Natanz last week that Tehran has blamed on Israel.
"On 21 April 2021, the agency verified that Iran had changed the mode by which it was producing UF6 enriched up to 60% U-235 at PFEP," the report said, referring to the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz and to uranium hexafluoride, the form in which uranium is fed into centrifuges for enrichment.
Iran was now using one cascade, or cluster, of IR-6 centrifuges to enrich to up to 60% and feeding the tails, or depleted uranium, from that process into a cascade of IR-4 machines to enrich to up to 20%, the report said. The IR-4 cascade was previously being used to enrich to up to 60%.
The IAEA report did not say why Iran had made the change.
But Gharibabadi told reporters on Thursday evening that Iran had told the UN nuclear agency that the 60% enrichment would be carried out using one cascade of IR-6 machines after coupling two IR-6 and IR-4 cascades within days into beginning the 60% enrichment program, Press TV wrote.
“In the new mode, two IR-6 & IR-4 cascades are coupled and with one time UF6 injection enriched up to 5%, two different products of 60 & 20% is accumulated,” the envoy explained in another tweet.
He added that the enrichment operation became more efficient as a result of the move.
Nothing irreversible done
A top US general said on Thursday that Iran had not done anything in its nuclear program that was irreversible.
"They've done nothing that is irreversible," Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, the head of US Central Command, told reporters.
Under the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Tehran can produce enriched uranium only with first-generation IR-1 machines. The deal also caps the purity to which Iran can enrich uranium at 3.67%.
Iran began to step up its nuclear work a year after former US president Donald Trump pulled out of the multilateral accord and reimposed sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the deal.