Iran’s nuclear chief said the country will start using 30 advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium, again violating terms of the 2015 nuclear deal and ramping up pressure on Europe to save the accord, Fox News reported.
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (AEO), told Iranian state television that additional IR-6 centrifuges will be used in the coming weeks. The centrifuges can enrich uranium 10 times faster than IR-1 centrifuges.
Iran is now producing up to 13 pounds of enriched uranium every day, according to Salehi. “It means we have restored pre-[nuclear]-deal capacity” of uranium production, he said.
The 2015 pact allows for 3.67 percent uranium enrichment. Iran says it has already hit 4.5 percent. Prior to the nuclear deal, it only reached up to 20 percent, which is a short technical step away from the weapons-grade levels of 90 percent, Fox News adds.
Experts estimate it could take about a year before Iran would have enough material to build a nuclear weapon, based on Tehran’s indication to use more advanced centrifuges. AEO officials have claimed Iran is “not after the bomb.”
Iran inaugurated 20 IR-6 centrifuges in September 2018. Tehran previously said it wouldn’t implement additional IR-6 centrifuges until late 2023. President Donald Trump announced last year that the United States was exiting the nuclear accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which Trump said was “the worst deal ever.”
Recently, Iran put Europe and the U.S. on notice over its nuclear ambitions, threatening to push uranium levels beyond what it has previously achieved – possibly even to weapons-grade levels.