Iran official says uranium will be enriched to 5% at underground facility

Iran announces that it will step up its enrichment of uranium to five percent beginning tomorrow in what will be a fresh violation of the 2015 nuclear deal, the country’s media reports.

The decision comes hours after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the country was restarting its uranium enrichment program at the heavily fortified Fordo facility in Iran’s Qom Province.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, says the uranium enrichment increase will be carried out in front of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to Iran’s Mehr news.

Screen capture from video showing Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear agency, right, and three Iranian-produced uranium enrichment centrifuges in the background. (YouTube)

“Salehi said that it had been decided that there will not be [20%] uranium enrichment at Fordow for the time being,” the Iranian outlet says.

Under the 2015 nuclear accord, Iran was limited to enriching uranium up to 3.67%, which is enough for peaceful pursuits but is far below weapons-grade levels of 90%. This summer, it began surpassing this level, in violation of the agreement, up to 4.5%, as a form of retaliation toward the United States, which has been steadily imposing sanctions on Iran since the White House pulled out of the nuclear deal last year.

— Judah Ari Gross

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