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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 2 March 2021

Iran says production of enriched uranium exceeds goals

Move brings Iran closer to weapons-grade uranium

Iran produced 17 kilograms of 20 per cent enriched uranium in the past month, state TV reported on Thursday, moving its nuclear programme closer to weapons-grade enrichment levels.

Parliament Speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, during a visit to the country’s Fordo nuclear facility, said in a televised speech that in less than a month, scientists had produced 17 kilograms of 20 per cent enriched uranium – more than their monthly target.

Uranium enriched to 20 per cent is a short technical step away from weapons-grade 90 per cent enrichment.

Western nations criticised Iran’s enrichment activity and called on Tehran to adhere to a 2015 nuclear accord.

Iran said it would produce 120 kilograms of 20 per cent enriched uranium a year, or 12 kilograms a month on average, so 17kg exceeds that timetable.

About 250kg of 20 per cent enriched uranium are needed to convert to 25kg of the 90 per cent enriched needed for a nuclear weapon.

The development brings Iran closer to crossing the line between nuclear operations with a potential civilian use, such as enriching nuclear fuel for power-generating reactors, and nuclear-weapons work, something Tehran has long denied ever carrying out.

Former US president Donald Trump in 2018 withdrew America from Iran’s nuclear deal, in which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

After the US then increased sanctions, Iran gradually and publicly abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development.

President Joe Biden, who was vice president when the deal was signed during the Obama administration, said he hopes to return the US to the deal.

Updated: January 28, 2021 04:05 PM

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