Tehran: Iran’s atomic agency said Friday that its stockpile of 20 per cent enriched uranium has reached over 210 kilograms (463 pounds), the latest provocative move ahead of upcoming nuclear talks with the West.
In a report carried by semi-official Tasnim and Fars news agencies, spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said the atomic agency had produced well beyond a 120-kilogram target for a 20 per cent enriched uranium set by parliament.
Under the historic 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the World Powers, Iran was not meant to enrich uranium above 3.67 per cent. Enriched uranium above 90 per cent can be used for nuclear weapons.
After months of delays, the European Union, Iran and the U.S. announced Wednesday that indirect talks to resuscitate the deal would resume on Nov. 29 in Vienna.
The nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear program and is meant to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists its program is peaceful.
Kamalvandi also said that so far his agency has also produced 25 kilograms of 60 per cent enriched uranium, a level that only countries with nuclear weapons have the physical capabilities to produce.
The U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, but Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia have tried to preserve the accord.
Tehran’s strategy of deliberately violating the deal is seen as an attempt to put pressure, particularly on Europe to provide it with incentives to offset crippling American sanctions re-imposed after the U.S. pullout.
On Sept. 15, Iran’s nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami said Tehran removed surveillance cameras belonging to the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog because of unfulfilled commitments by other signatories of the nuclear deal.
U.S. President Joe Biden and European leaders criticized Tehran last week for what it saw as accelerated and provocative nuclear steps as Iran continues to enrich uranium to higher levels.
With the talks in Vienna now stalled, Iran has breached limits set by the accord and is enriching small amounts of uranium to its closest-ever levels to weapons-grade purity as its stockpile continues to grow. Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.
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