Iran has told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it plans to enrich Uranium to up to 20% purity at Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP).
“Iran has informed the Agency that in order to comply with a legal act recently passed by the country’s parliament, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran intends to produce Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) up to 20% at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant,” the IAEA, United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, said in a statement.
It had reached that level of enrichment even before the 2015 accord was signed. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) allowed Iran to enrich Uranium only up to 3.67%. To build a nuclear bomb, Uranium enrichment must reach 90%.
When Trump pulled U.S. out of the deal, Tehran is said to have breached the threshold by raising the level to 4.5%.
Tehran says the move is in response to U.S.’ withdrawal from Iran Nuclear Deal; re-imposition of sanctions; and assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last month, which it blames Israel for. Last January, the U.S. also admitted to killing Iranian top general Qasem Soleimani.
In an interview with state television on Saturday, chief of Iran's nuclear agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, said that Tehran has written to the IAEA about raising the level to 20% in accordance with a recently introduced law "very soon.” Salehi noted that a final nod from President Hassan Rouhani is required before the move is implemented.
The Rouhani government says it is willing to return to full compliance of the deal, which means scaling down uranium enrichment back to 3.6%, if Washington "unconditionally" returns to the deal.