Just days into the new negotiations in Vienna, Iran has acknowledged higher enrichment with advanced centrifuges barred by the accord.
The case in point? Iran’s underground nuclear facility in Fordo.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations body charged with monitoring the Islamic Republic’s program, acknowledged Wednesday that Iran began feeding a cascade of 166 advanced IR-6 centrifuges with uranium there. The agency said Iran plans to enrich uranium there up to 20% purity — a short, technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90%.
Tehran’s diplomatic mission to Vienna sought to downplay the acknowledgement on Twitter as “an ordinary update in line with regular verification in Iran.” However, even in clinical language the announcement offers a stark contrast to what existed under the 2015 nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
The deal halted all enrichment at Fordo, which sits under a mountain near the holy Shiite city of Qom, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) southwest of Tehran. The accord also called for Fordo to become a research-and-development facility.
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