Tehran, Apr 13 (EFE).- Iran will boost uranium enrichment levels to 60 percent in response to last weekend’s sabotage attack on the Natanz nuclear plant, the country’s deputy foreign minister said Tuesday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has been notified of the move, Abbas Araghchi told media after arriving in Vienna for negotiations aimed at restoring the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) under which Iran agreed to limit uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent in return for a lifting of sanctions.
In 2018, the United States, under then-President Donald Trump, unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA and embarked on a “maximum pressure” campaign of escalating sanctions against Iran.
While the other signatories to the 2015 pact – China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Germany – sought to preserve the JCPOA, but Washington’s threats of imposing secondary sanctions on entities doing business with Iran crippled those efforts.
A year after the US pulled out, Iran began enriching uranium to 20 percent, citing a provision of the JCPOA that allows Tehran to depart from some of the conditions in the event of non-compliance by other parties.
The level of uranium enrichment needed to produce a nuclear bomb is 90 percent.
“Another 1,000 centrifuges with a 50-percent-higher enrichment capacity” will be installed at the Natanz plant, Araghchi said.
Iran said Monday that the induced power failure at Natanz irreparably damaged the plant’s first-generation centrifuges and that those machines will be replaced by advanced centrifuges prohibited by the JCPOA.
Tehran accuses Israel of being behind the sabotage at Natanz. Israeli officials have neither confirmed nor denied involvement.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Javad Zarif said Tuesday that Israel would be ill-advised to think that the Natanz incident would weaken Tehran’s posture during the nuclear negotiations in Vienna.