Iran is responding to a recent attack on its Natanz nuclear facility by ramping up uranium enrichment to its highest level ever.
The Islamic Republic will begin enriching uranium to 60% purity, a negotiator for the Iranian regime said Tuesday. While 60% is still short of weapons-grade enrichment, the change represents an escalation at a time when the U.S. is attempting to restart negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA).
Iran accused Israel of carrying out the sabotage of the Natanz facility. The attack reportedly damaged centrifuges, and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said it could threaten negotiations over the JCPOA with the United States. (RELATED: Biden’s Intel Chief Releases 2020 Election Report Confirming Russian And Iranian Interference)
Iranian nuclear negotiator Abbas Araghchi said the regime will add an additional 1,000 centrifuges to the Natanz facility. Araghchi is set to participate in talks this week in Vienna about a possible deal to restart negotiations with the United States.
Iran had previously been enriching uranium up to 20%. 90% enrichment is considered weapons grade. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have said they will agree to lift some sanctions and discuss a re-entry into the JCPOA if Iran cuts back on enrichment, which has increased after former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018. (RELATED: ‘Dangerous For Israel’: Former Israeli Ambassador Criticizes Biden’s Potential Iran Deal)
I am requesting a classified briefing on the Natanz incident. It should go without saying that there is no viable military path to divorcing Iran from a nuclear weapon. Only a diplomatic path. And now, the diplomatic road is more difficult. https://t.co/MLlY9pqfzE
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) April 13, 2021
Washington has said it had nothing to do with the Natanz sabotage, but that didn’t stop Zarif from singling out America in his condemnation of the attack. “Americans should know that neither sanctions nor sabotage actions would provide them with an instrument for talks. They should know that these actions would only make the situation difficult for them,” he said.