TEHRAN – Iran resumed enriching uranium at its underground Fordow nuclear plant on Thursday, taking a new step in breach of a 2015 atomic pact between Tehran and six major world powers.
The process began a day after Iran injected gas into centrifuges used to enrich uranium at the atomic plant.
According to an official notification, the entire process of production and collection of enriched uranium was carried out in the presence of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) inspectors.
President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday ordered Iran’s atomic agency to start injecting uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into 1,044 centrifuges present at the nuclear facility.
A day later, the president wrote on Twitter that the Fordow facility “will soon be back to full operation” after Tehran’s fourth step in reducing its commitments under the nuclear deal.
A cylinder holding around 2,000 kg of UF6 was moved from the Natanz nuclear facility to Fordow and then connected to the supply lines to inject the gas into the centrifuges on Wednesday.
Rouhani blamed the United States for breaching the agreement by withdrawing unilaterally from the pact in 2018 and imposing sanctions on Iran.
According to Tehran, Washington’s punitive measures have gradually led Iran to step away from its commitments. However, it claims that all these measures are reversible.
The 2015 pact imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program to prevent it from developing an atomic bomb in exchange for lifting international sanctions.
The pact, besides setting the limit of uranium enrichment at 3.67 percent, establishes that the Fordow facility should be a nuclear and physics technology center instead of a uranium enrichment plant.
According to the head of AEOI, Ali Akbar Salehi, the facility will enrich uranium up to 5 percent and is expected to reach a level of 4.5 percent on Saturday.
The latest Iranian step in breach of the agreement follows earlier measures in May, July, and September.
Tehran is trying to pressure the other signatories (Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany) to counteract the sanctions imposed by Washington.