World · June 21, 2022

Iran ready to step up nuclear enrichment in an underground facility: the IAEA

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Iran is poised to increase its uranium enrichment capabilities as the US continues negotiations on a nuclear deal in Vienna, according to a UN watchdog.

A report from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) found that Iran is preparing to install IR-6 centrifuges in its Fordow underground facility, according to Reuters. The machines can allow Iran to enrich uranium up to 20% purity and potentially more.

Iran was only allowed to install IR-1 centrifuges and enrich uranium to just under 4% under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran is also enriching uranium up to 60% purity in another facility, approaching the 90% purity required for nuclear weapons.

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FILE - This photo published on November 5, 2019 by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, shows the centrifugal machines at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in central Iran.  (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP, file)

FILE – This photo published on November 5, 2019 by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, shows the centrifugal machines at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in central Iran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP, file)

Experts say the development is a warning sign to President Joe Biden’s administration that Iran is seeking concessions to the Vienne negotiations.

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“Iran’s nuclear escalation strategy continues to be defined by two types of acts: increasing the scope and scope of the program through facts on the ground, while reducing the IAEA’s monitoring and verification capabilities,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies that Focus on Iranian Security, told Fox News Digital. “This combination of fewer eyes and more worry is designed to scare Washington into further concessions in Vienna.”

“The Biden administration must strengthen the enforcement of sanctions, particularly against the targets that the Treasury has set out since May: those involved in oil and petrochemical sales,” said Taleblu. “The regime’s illicit sales of oil and petrochemicals literally underwrite its regional and nuclear escalation.”

The IAEA report comes days before Biden does trip to Saudi Arabiawhere it should negotiate to lower gas prices and give weight to the negotiations surrounding a nuclear deal with Iran.

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Iran abandoned many of the commitments it made in the 2015 nuclear deal after the United States withdrew from it under former President Donald Trump. The Biden administration has made little progress towards another deal.