TEHRAN, Iran — Iran plans to start using a new array of advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium, the country’s nuclear chief said Monday according to state television, in a move likely to intensify pressure on Europe to save Tehran’s collapsing nuclear deal with world powers.
Ali Akbar Salehi told Iranian state TV that an array of 30 IR-6 centrifuges will be inaugurated in the coming weeks.
Under the terms of its 2015 deal — which the US unilaterally withdrew from over a year ago — Iran had committed to not using the array until late 2023.
Iran has steadily increased its breaches of the nuclear accord as it pushes its European partners to find a way around US sanctions that have kept it from selling oil abroad and crippled the Iranian economy.
Salehi also said Iran is now producing up to six kilograms of enriched uranium daily.
“It means we have restored pre-deal” capacity, he said.
In September, Iran inaugurated an array of 20 IR-6 centrifuges that can produce enriched uranium 10 times as fast as the IR-1 that Iran was already using.
Iran is currently enriching uranium to about 4.5%. Prior to the nuclear deal, it only reached up to 20%, which is a short technical step away from the weapons-grade levels of 90%.
Regional tensions spiked last month after a drone and missile attack on Saudi Arabia’s largest oil facility that shook global energy markets. The US said Iran was behind the attack. Tehran denied the charge and said any retaliatory strikes by the US or Saudi Arabia could lead to “all-out war.”