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10 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM
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Iran enriching uranium to 5pc

AFP, Tehran

Iran said yesterday it is now enriching uranium to five percent, after a series of steps back from its commitments under a troubled 2015 accord with major powers. The deal set a 3.67 percent limit for uranium enrichment but Iran announced it would no longer respect it after Washington unilaterally abandoned the agreement last year and reimposed crippling sanctions. “Based on our needs and what we have been ordered, we are currently producing five percent,” Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told a press conference.

He said Iran has the “capacity to produce five percent, twenty percent, sixty percent, or any percentage” of enriched uranium, a claim often repeated by Tehran. Uranium enrichment is the sensitive process that produces fuel for nuclear power plants but also, in highly extended form, the fissile core for a warhead. The current five percent level exceeds the limit set by the accord but is less than the 20 percent Iran had previously operated and far less than the 90 percent level required for a warhead.

In its fourth step away from the agreement, Iran resumed enrichment at the Fordow plant south of Tehran on Thursday, with engineers feeding uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) into the plant’s mothballed enrichment centrifuges. Iran was already enriching uranium at another plant in Natanz. Tehran emphasises the measures it has taken are swiftly reversible if the remaining parties to the deal—Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia—find a way to get around US sanctions.

On July 1, Iran said it had increased its stockpile of enriched uranium to beyond a 300-kilogramme maximum set by the deal, and a week later, it announced it had exceeded the enrichment cap.

The third move had it firing up advanced centrifuges on September 7 to enrich uranium faster and to higher levels.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday slammed Tehran’s treatment of an inspector with the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency last week as “an outrageous and unwarranted act of intimidation.” The top US diplomat said Iran “detained” the inspector, who the International Atomic Energy Agency has said had been briefly prevented from leaving Iran. Iran said Thursday it had cancelled the inspector’s accreditation after she triggered an alarm last week at the entrance to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

Iran yesterday said it was prepared if necessary to release footage of the incident with a UN nuclear inspector.

Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said that a check at the entrance gate to the Natanz uranium enrichment plant “triggered the alarm multiple times, showing (the inspector) was either contaminated with certain materials or had them on her”.

He did not specify what the materials were or whether they had actually been found in her possession. The alarm during a check at the entrance to the plant in central Iran had raised concerns that she could be carrying a “suspect product” on her, Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said in a statement posted online.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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