Iran Lawmaker Hails National ‘Miracles’ as Uranium Enrichment Soars to Highest Ever Levels

Iranian presidential candidate, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, who is also Tehran's mayor, waves
AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File

Iran announced Friday it is now enriching uranium at up to 60 percent purity, its highest level ever, just days after an attack targeted its key Natanz nuclear site.

The country’s parliamentary speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf (pictured) did not elaborate on the amount Iran ultimately planned to enrich, however the semi-official Tasnim news agency says the senior lawmaker congratulated the “brave Iranian people” on the success, saying “the Iranian nation’s determination creates miracles and foils any plot.”

The move is likely to raise tensions even as Iran negotiates with world powers in Vienna over a way to allow the U.S. back into the agreement and lift the crushing economic sanctions it faces.

“The will of the Iranian nation is a miracle-maker and it will defuse any conspiracy,” state television quoted Qalibaf as saying. He said the enrichment began just after midnight on Friday and was a direct response to Israel’s “nuclear terrorism” with its attack a few days earlier on the Natanz nuclear facility.

While 60 per cent is higher than any level that Iran has previously enriched uranium, it is still lower than weapons-grade levels of 90 per cent yet sends a clear message to U.S. President Joe Biden that Iran has no intention of being bound by any restrictions as it was when Donald Trump was in the White House.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the country’s civilian nuclear arm, later acknowledged the move to 60 percent, according to state TV. Ali Akbar Salehi said more details would be forthcoming and declined to further elaborate, AP reports.

The heightened enrichment could inspire a further response from Israel amid a long-running shadow war between the nations.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed never to allow Tehran to obtain a nuclear weapon and his country has twice preemptively moved to stop their atomic programs.

The governments of France, Germany and the UK have previously warned enriching uranium up to 60 percent was “a serious development” since it constituted “an important step in the production of a nuclear weapon.”

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