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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - DUBAI — Iran has informed the international nuclear watchdog that it intends to massively ramp up its levels of uranium enrichment following an apparent attack on a nuclear site in the country over the weekend.
On Tuesday, Iran's deputy foreign minister and a top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi told state-run Press TV that the International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) had been informed of Tehran's decision to ramp up enrichment to 60 percent purity, a big step up from the current 20 percent purity levels.
The decision pushes Iran closer to reaching the 90 percent enrichment level that is considered weapons-grade. Iran has continually denied it intends to assemble nuclear weapons.
The announcement came just days after a blackout at Iran's Natanz nuclear site, an underground facility where uranium enrichment takes place. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused Israel of sabotaging the facility and vowed to take revenge.
In July 2019, the Iranian government announced it was increasing enrichment beyond that level, following the decision of then-US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the deal and re-introduce economic sanctions in 2018.
In January this year, Iran announced it would resume enriching uranium to 20 percent purity.
Last week, Iranian representatives met with officials from the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China — the other signatories to the nuclear deal — in Vienna to discuss a way forward on how to resuscitate the 2015 deal. US officials were also in Vienna to meet with the other signatories but did not meet directly with Iranian officials.
A US State Department spokesperson said Monday that the talks in Vienna would reconvene this week.
The talks were scheduled to take place on Wednesday, but have been delayed by a day by a positive COVID-19 test in one of the negotiating teams, Iran's semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Tuesday. — Courtesy CNN
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