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Iran pushes to enrich uranium to 60 percent after sabotage at key plant


Iran is pushing to enrich uranium to 60 percent purity, with President Hassan Rouhani calling the move a response to the “malice” of recent sabotage at a key nuclear plant, which it has blamed on Israel.

“Of course, the security and intelligence officials must give the final reports, but apparently it is the crime of the Zionists, and if the Zionists act against our nation, we will answer it,” Rouhani claimed Wednesday in a televised cabinet meeting.

“Our response to their malice is replacing the damaged centrifuges with more advanced ones and ramping up the enrichment to 60% at the Natanz facility.”

The Natanz facility, a key cog in Iran’s nuclear program, mysteriously lost power on Sunday, not long after it fired up advanced centrifuges allowing it to enrich uranium faster.

The next day, Iran pinned the blame on Israel, vowing to retaliate.

Iran has blamed Israeel for its Natanz uranium enrichment facility losing power.
Iran has blamed Israeel for its Natanz uranium enrichment facility losing power.
REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

While 60-percent enriched uranium falls short of the 90-percent purity level needed for viable nuclear weapons, it represents a step toward armament.

Under a 2015 deal — by which Iran has not abided since the US withdrew in 2018 — Iran is prohibited from enriched uranium beyond 3.67 percent.

Nations around the world are calling for Iran to deescalate the situation.
Nations around the world are calling for Iran to deescalate the situation.
ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images

Iranian officials have claimed that it is not the nation’s intent to develop nuclear weapons.

The Israeli government has not claimed responsibility for the Natanz sabotage, but Israeli media has reported that Mossad operatives carried out a cyberattack against an Iranian nuclear facility.

The development came as world powers met in Vienna to find a way for the US to re-enter the deal and ensure that Iran abides by its terms.

“You wanted to make our hands empty during the talks but our hands are full,” said Rouhani, in reference to those discussions. “Sixty-percent enrichment is an answer to your evilness. … We cut off both of your hands, one with IR-6 centrifuges and another one with 60 percent.”

On Wednesday, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, which were also parties in the 2015 deal, released a statement voicing “grave concern” over Iran’s posturing.

Iran's call for 60-percent enriched uranium represents a step toward armament.
Iran’s call for 60-percent enriched uranium represents a step toward armament.
Iranian Presidency/AFP via Getty Images

“This is a serious development since the production of highly enriched uranium constitutes an important step in the production of a nuclear weapon,” the countries said. “Iran has no credible civilian need for enrichment at this level.”

Saudi Arabia, a regional rival with Iran, issued a similar statement.

“The kingdom calls on Iran to avoid escalation and not to subject the security and stability of the region to more tension, and to engage seriously in the current negotiations,” the nation said.

With Wires

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