Report: Iran Forging Ahead with Accelerated Uranium Enrichment

An Iranian technician works at a Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Isfahan 20 November 2004. Representatives and ambassadors from Cuba, Algeria, South Africa and Malaysia along with IAEA`s inspectors visited the Isfahan facility and became acquainted with uranium processing in the center. AFP PHOTO/STR (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP/Getty Images

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) has boosted the number of centrifuge machines used for enriching uranium at the country’s Fordow nuclear site to over 1,000 units, a special AEOI aide said Sunday.

The semi-official Tansim news agency said only 720 centrifuges were spinning at the major Fordow nuclear site before the beginning of nuclear negotiations with the world powers that led to the 2015 JCPOA deal, but the number has now reached 1,044.

In comments at an exhibition in Iran’s western city of Sanandaj on Sunday, spokesman Ali Asghar Zarean revealed 10 generations of centrifuges have come into existence in the world so far, and Iran has brought seven of those generations into operation.

Zarean said 85 percent of the entire area of Iran has been scanned for nuclear substances, rare-earth elements (REEs), gold, silver and water to a depth of 4,000 meters.

Iran extracts 50 tons of uranium or yellow cake from the earth annually, he added.

Last month, an Iranian official said that the Islamic Republic has quadrupled its enrichment rate of low-enriched uranium and that it no longer accepts the restriction on uranium enrichment as it was written in the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Iranian officials made a point to stress that the uranium would be enriched only to the 3.67 percent limit set under the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal with world powers, making it usable for a power plant but far below what’s needed for an atomic weapon.

But by increasing production, Iran soon will exceed the stockpile limitations set by the accord. Tehran has set a July 7 deadline for Europe to set new terms for the deal, or it will enrich closer to weapons-grade levels in a Middle East already on edge.

The Trump administration has deployed bombers and an aircraft carrier to the region over still-unspecified threats from Iran.

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