VIENNA – Iran has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it plans to enrich uranium to up to 20% purity, a level it reached before the historic 2015 nuclear agreement it signed with six world powers.
“Iran has informed the agency that in order to comply with a legal act recently passed by the country’s parliament, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran intends to produce low-enriched uranium (LEU) up to 20% at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant,” the IAEA said in a statement on Friday.
Mikhail Ulyanov, Russia’s permanent representative to the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, wrote on Twitter that IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi reported to the board of governors and United Nations Security Council about the intention of Tehran to start enrichment up to 20%.
Ulyanov said the pressure tactics had failed and it was time to return to diplomacy.
“The last 4 years clearly demonstrated that maximum pressure policy in its various manifestations failed everywhere (#Iran, #DPRK (North Korea), #Venezuela). It led to increased tension and didn’t produce any positive result. It is high time to return to diplomacy in int(ernational) relations.”
It is the latest in a series of decisions announced by Tehran that violate the 2015 nuclear deal Tehran signed with the United States, China, Russia, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.
The announcement comes after the death of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who was the target of an assassination that Tehran has claimed was carried out by Israeli “mercenaries” acting on behalf of Washington.
Tehran began to breach certain commitments made under the nuclear part following Washington’s withdrawal from the accord and to pressure European members of the pact to guarantee the economic benefits of the deal.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was signed in 2015 in Vienna and puts limitations on Iran’s nuclear program so the nation cannot develop a nuclear bomb in the short term.
In exchange, international sanctions were lifted which the US revoked two years ago, including an oil embargo.
Iran had already exceeded the 3.67% limit established by the agreement but has only gone up to 4.5% so far, well below the 20% it achieved shortly before the 2015 pact and the 90% required for a nuclear bomb.
Iran’s non-compliance with the nuclear accord, especially the enriching of uranium to such levels, may hamper US President-elect Joe Biden’s efforts to get Washington back in the deal.