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Iran announces it is enriching uranium to 20% with new Fordo centrifuges

In this photo released by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, spokesman of the organization Behrouz Kamalvandi, center, briefs the media while visiting Fordo nuclear site near Qom, south of Tehran, Iran, November 9, 2019 (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)
In this photo released by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, spokesman of the organization Behrouz Kamalvandi, center, briefs the media while visiting Fordo nuclear site near Qom, south of Tehran, Iran, November 9, 2019 (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

Iran announces that it has begun enriching uranium up to 20% using sophisticated centrifuges at its underground Fordo nuclear plant, state TV reports, an escalation that comes amid a standoff with the West over its tattered atomic deal.

That Tehran is enriching uranium up to 20% purity — a technical step from weapons-grade levels of 90% — with a new set of its most advanced centrifuges at a facility deep inside a mountain deals yet another blow to the already slim chances of reviving the accord.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, says uranium enriched to 20% was being collected for the first time from advanced IR-6 centrifuges. He says Iran informed the UN nuclear watchdog about the development two weeks ago.

Iran had previously told the IAEA that it was preparing to enrich uranium through a new cascade of 166 advanced IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Fordo facility. But it hadn’t revealed the level at which the cascade would be enriching.

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