Iran has started to inject uranium gas into centrifuges at its underground Fordow nuclear facility, state TV reported on Wednesday, further distancing itself from a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that curbed its atomic work, Reuters informed.
The deal bans nuclear material from Fordow and, with the injection of uranium gas into its centrifuges, the facility will move from its permitted status of research plant to become an active nuclear site.
“With the presence of inspectors from International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran started injecting (uranium) gas into centrifuges in Fordow,” TV reported.
Iran agreed in 2015 to turn Fordow into a “nuclear, physics and technology center” where 1,044 centrifuges are used for purposes other than enrichment, such as producing stable isotopes, which have a variety of civil uses.
Last year, President Donald Trump exited the deal and said it was flawed in Iran’s favor. Washington has since renewed and intensified its sanctions, slashing Iran’s economically vital crude oil sales by more than 80%.
Responding to Washington’s “maximum pressure” policy, Iran has bypassed the restrictions of the deal step-by-step – including by breaching both its cap on stockpiled enriched uranium and on the level of enrichment.
“Iran has taken its fourth step to decrease its nuclear commitments to the deal in reaction to the increased U.S. pressure and inactivity of European parties to the deal to save it,” state TV added.
In Vienna, the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, said its inspectors are on the ground in Iran and will report back on relevant activities.
Iranian authorities also said on Tuesday that Tehran will enrich uranium to 5% at Fordow, which will further complicate the chances of saving the accord, which European powers, Russia and the European Union have urged Iran to respect.