TEHRAN – Iran said on Monday it had resumed enriching uranium up to 20 percent purity, violating the terms of the 2015 international nuclear deal.
The process started at the Fordo plant after President Hassan Rouhani issued an order to implement a law approved by the Parliament, the spokesperson for the Iranian government Ali Rabiei said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency announced on Friday that it had been notified of Iran’s intention to return to the 20 percent purity it reached before the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed in 2015.
Under the terms of the deal that limits the Iranian nuclear program to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons, Iran is not allowed to enrich uranium to more than 3.67 percent purity.
In 2019, Iran exceeded the limit of 3.67 percent. However, Iran remains well under the 90 percent purity needed for a nuclear bomb.
“The first UF6 enriched uranium will be produced in a few hours,” Rabiei said according to the state-run IRAN news agency.
The process began after taking measures such as notifying the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rabiei added.
This is the most recent Iranian violation of the nuclear agreement signed in 2015 between Iran and the United States, China, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom.
The Islamic Republic stopped fulfilling its obligations in 2019, after the US withdrew from the deal and unilaterally re-imposed sanctions on Tehran a year earlier.
The most recent developments could hinder efforts by US president-elect Joe Biden to get back into the JCPOA as expected.
Iran’s Parliament approved a law in December to produce and store 120 kg of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity annually, among other things.
It was approved a few days after the assassination of prominent Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fajrizadeh. Tehran blamed Israel for his killing.