Iran: Iran has commenced enriching uranium at its Natanz underground plant with a second type of advanced centrifuge, the IR-4, the U.S. nuclear watchdog said in a report revised by Reuters on Tuesday, in a further breach of Tehran’s agreement with great powers.
Iran has recently accelerated violations of the agreement’s restrictions on its core activities in an apparent attempt to put US President Joe Biden under pressure, as both sides are caught up on who should move first to save the agreement.
Tehran’s transgressions began in 2019 in response to the US withdrawal from the agreement and the reform of US economic sanctions against Iran under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, who opposed the agreement and sought to destroy it.
Last year, Iran began moving three cascades, or clusters, of various advanced centrifuge models from an above-ground plant in Natanz to its underground fuel enrichment (FEP) plant. It already enriches underground with IR-2m centrifuges. The agreement only enriches it with the first generation IR-1 machines.
“On March 15, 2021, the agency confirmed that Iran started launching the cascade of 174 IR-4 centrifuges already established at FEP with natural UF6,” the International Atomic Energy Agency stated in Monday’s report to member states, subpoenaing uranium hexafluoride form in which uranium is fed in centrifuges for enrichment.
Iran has intimated that it now intends to install a second cascade of IR-4 centrifuges at the FEP, but the installation of the cascade has not yet begun, the report stated. Iran has already expanded the number of IR-2m devices, which are much more effective than the IR-1 installed at the experimental plant.
In brief, as of March 15, 2021, Iran will practice 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges installed in 30 cascades, 522 IR-2m centrifuges placed in three cascades and 174 IR-4 centrifuges established in one cascade to give the natural Enrich UF6 to 5. % U-235 at FEP, ”reads the IAEA report, referring to the fissile purity of uranium.
Iran enriches to 20% purity at another plant, Fordow.