A spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said Saturday that the country is capable of enriching uranium up to 60%.
“The organization has the possibility to produce 5%, 20% and 60%, and has this capacity,” AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said. Iran would need uranium to be enriched at least 90% to produce fuel for a nuclear weapon. He added that Iran only needs to enrich uranium at 5% in the current moment.
Kamalvandi made the statements at the underground Fordow nuclear plant, which had been banned from producing nuclear material under the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On Thursday, the Islamic Republic said that it had resumed uranium production at the facility.
The JCPOA was agreed upon in July 2015 between Iran and six countries: China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. The JCPOA would push for Iran to limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from western sanctions, and the country would also have to submit to international inspections of its nuclear sites. The deal would also allow Iran to be better integrated into the global economy.
In May 2018, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. had withdrawn the JCPOA, which put the deal in jeopardy. The Trump administration has since initiated sanctions on Iran and on top members of the Iranian leadership, such as Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei.
European nations have tried to salvage the deal. In August, French President Emmanuel Macron invited Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif to the G7 summit in Biarritz, France. Macron wanted Zarif to speak with Trump at the summit about the deal but Trump refused to meet with Zarif.
Trump’s tough stance on Iran is partially due to strong U.S.-Israeli ties under his administration. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned the international community that Iran could develop a nuclear bomb that could wipe Israel out and has pushed for the U.S. to leave the JCPOA.
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