Iran tells IAEA it will accelerate underground uranium enrichment

The move is a breach of Iran's deal with major world powers

FILE PHOTO: Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali-Akbar Salehi and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi, attend a press conference in Tehran, Iran August 25, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY/File Photo
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A United Nations nuclear watchdog group said Iran intends to move forward with more uranium-enriching centrifuges, breaking an agreement the country made with world powers yet again.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran will eventually install advanced cascades of centrifuges at an underground plant it operates in Natanz.

"In a letter dated December 2, 2020, Iran informed the Agency that the operator of the Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz 'intends to start installation of three cascades of IR-2m centrifuge machines' at FEP," the confidential agency report said, according to Reuters.

The cascades are more advanced, an IR-2m centrifuge over an IR-1 centrifuge, than the ones that Tehran is allowed to use under the nuclear deal. The IAEA states IR-2m centrifuges have already been moved to the plant to start the process of enriching uranium.

However, it isn’t the first time Iran has breached limits agreed upon in the global nuclear deal.

The IAEA says Tehran now has a stockpile of 2.4 tonnes of enriched uranium, according to the organisation’s last report. The amount is 12 times more than what Iran is allowed to have in their nuclear programme. It’s still less than the 8 tonnes the country held before the agreement.

It poses a challenge for the new US administration under President-elect Joe Biden, starting in late January. Mr Biden has signalled he’d have the US enter the Iran nuclear deal President Donald Trump left.

Mr Biden’s pledge for the US to rejoin the pact does, however, depend on if Tehran remained true to the agreement made in 2015. Tehran claims the moves it has made regarding the country’s nuclear plan can be reversed.

Mr Trump’s current Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to Mr Biden’s possible stance in a Bahrain security summit on Friday, “I think it’s fundamentally the wrong direction.”