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    Iran Announces It Will Start Enriching Uranium to 5% at Fordow Site on 6 November

    © AFP 2019 / HO / ATOMIC ENERGY ORGANIZATION OF IRAN
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    According to the conditions of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, the country can't enrich Uranium above 3.67%. But Tehran started to roll back its commitments this year due to the US sanctions against its oil and banking spheres.

    Head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation Ali Akbar Salehi has announced that the country will start enriching uranium up to 5% at the Fordow nuclear site on 6 November. The official added that the process of injecting gas into the centrifuges, enriching uranium, will be monitored by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

    Salehi further noted that if necessary, Iran is capable of enriching uranium up to 20% at the Fordow plant. The official added that currently, the country has enough 20% enriched uranium stockpiled.

    In this picture taken  April 9, 2009  the  exterior view of Iran's Uranium Conversion Facility  outside the city of Isfahan, 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran is photographed. Iran is lagging behind on equipping a bunker with machines enriching uranium to a grade that can be turned quickly to arm nuclear warheads and now says will produce less at the site than originally planned, diplomats tell The Associated Press.  The diplomats said that Iranian officials recently told the International Atomic Energy Agency that half of the approximately 1,000 centrifuges to be installed at the underground Fordow site will churn out uranium enriched to near 20 percent, while the rest will produce low-enriched material at around 3.5 percent.
    © AP Photo / Vahid salemi
    In this picture taken April 9, 2009 the exterior view of Iran's Uranium Conversion Facility outside the city of Isfahan, 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran is photographed. Iran is lagging behind on equipping a bunker with machines enriching uranium to a grade that can be turned quickly to arm nuclear warheads and now says will produce less at the site than originally planned, diplomats tell The Associated Press. The diplomats said that Iranian officials recently told the International Atomic Energy Agency that half of the approximately 1,000 centrifuges to be installed at the underground Fordow site will churn out uranium enriched to near 20 percent, while the rest will produce low-enriched material at around 3.5 percent.

    Previously, the country's President Hassan Rouhani issued an order for the Fordow nuclear site to start enriching uranium up to 5% starting 6 November as the next step in Iran's policy of scaling back its commitments under the nuclear deal.

    Uranium enriched to levels between 3% and 5% is widely used in nuclear reactors around the world. When uranium is enriched beyond 20%, it is considered to be highly enriched and potentially useable in the creation of nuclear weapons. Iran has repeatedly stated that it is developing its nuclear programme only for peaceful purposes, citing religious constraints prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons. But some countries, like Israel, continue to accuse Tehran of trying to build its own nukes.

    Iran Nuclear Deal

    In order to address the suspicions surrounding Iran's nuclear programme, a group of countries called the P5+1 reached an agreement in 2015 called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal. According to the agreement, Iran's ability to develop its nuclear programme was severely limited – namely, it could not enrich uranium above 3.67%. In return, all international sanctions were lifted from the country.

    The deal suffered a heavy blow after the US decided to pull out of it in 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s banks and oil industry, threatening to punish any entities dealing with the country in these spheres. The remaining signatories to the JCPOA condemned the move and vowed to find a way to work around the American sanctions in order to continue doing business with Iran.

    Heavy water nuclear facility near Arak, Iran
    © AP Photo / Hamid Foroutan
    Heavy water nuclear facility near Arak, Iran

    Despite their efforts, many companies cut ties with the Islamic Republic and the country’s oil trade is still suffering due to the sanctions. The EU introduced a special trading mechanism called INSTEX to bypass the US restrictions, but it failed to protect Iran’s oil trade.

    In light of this situation, Iran announced in May 2019 that it would start to gradually roll back its commitments under the JCPOA unless the remaining signatories come up with a solution to its economic woes. It has since gone through three stages of such roll-backs.

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    Tags:
    Iran Nuclear Deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), uranium, Iran
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