“Initial steps have been taken to create modern 20 percent [enriched uranium] fuel and we are on the verge [of producing it],” Salehi said, cited by the Associated Press, noting that Iran no longer needs to rely on reverse-engineering of foreign technologies.
Salehi made clear that the steps taken by AEOI are preliminary and that the “modern fuel” Iran seeks to produce would increase the efficiency of Tehran’s 50-year-old research reactor that consumes 20-percent enriched fuel.
“We have made such progress in nuclear science and industry that, instead of reverse-engineering and the use of designs by others, we can design new fuel ourselves,” Salehi said.
The JCPOA was agreed to with the condition that Iran wouldn’t enrich uranium above 3.67 percent. Iran had been reaching 20 percent before the deal. Washington withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the landmark 2015 agreement on Iran's nuclear program, last May, and has reintroduced a series of tough sanctions against the Islamic Republic since then. The withdrawal was criticised by the JCPOA's other signatories, including Russia, China, and several European powers, who have scrambled to save the agreement.