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Iran fulfils threat to expand uranium enrichment

IANS | June 14, 2024 05:21 PM

VIENNA: Following last week's resolution against Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Tehran is now pressing ahead with the threatened expansion of its uranium facilities, the UN nuclear watchdog said.

Iran has put additional high-performance centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium into operation, the Vienna-based agency told its member states in a confidential report.

The report was later obtained by several media and drew a stiff US public response on Thursday.

Iranian authorities also announced the installation of many more powerful centrifuges to bolster production, the IAEA said.

According to the report, around 350 of the new machines were already installed in an underground facility in Fordow, 32 kilometres northeast of the Iranian city of Qom. Another 350 units are in the works, the agency said.

On June 5, the IAEA passed a resolution calling for Tehran to cooperate with its inspectors after years of stalling in order to clarify unanswered questions about suspected secret nuclear activities in the past.

Germany, France and Britain have indirectly threatened to call in the UN Security Council if Iran failed to provide answers.

In turn, Iran's government threatened to meet the resolution with a "proportionate, effective and immediate response."

The US State Department reacted sharply to the latest Iranian measures described by the IAEA.

At a press briefing in Washington on Thursday, department spokesman Matthew Miller stressed that the Iranian actions outlined in the IAEA report "only further undermine Iran's claims that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful."

Were Iran to implement the steps it has announced, "we will respond accordingly, " Miller added.

Officially, Iran does not enrich uranium for use in nuclear weapons. However, it produces near weapons-grade material with a purity far exceeding the requirements for nuclear fuel or scientific purposes.

In 2015, Iran agreed to heavily restrict its nuclear programme in return for a pledge by Western countries to lift sanctions.

However, then US President Donald Trump cancelled the pact after taking office the following year, prompting Iran to restart its uranium facilities.

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