Middle east

Iran Installs Advanced Uranium Enrichment Centrifuges in Natanz, Reports Say

Iran has been partly violating the terms of its nuclear agreement, known as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) after it was abandoned by the US in 2018. Tehran and the European parties to the deal held negotiations to revive the JCPOA, but Washington has so far refused to remove sanctions from the Iranian economy.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported on Wednesday that Iran has installed improved centrifuges at its Natanz nuclear power plant.

“On 21 April 2021, the Agency verified at FEP that: … six cascades of up to 1,044 IR-2m centrifuges; and two cascades of up to 348 IR-4 centrifuges … were installed, of which a number were being used,” IAEA statement reads as cited by Reuters.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi had announced the day before that that power supply had been restored at the Natanz plant, reactivating several centrifuges.

IAEA’s previous review showed that Natanz’ facility is using 696 IR-2m and 174 IR-4 centrifuges, while the JCPOA only allows the use of IR-1 machines, which are far less efficient. Last week, Iran notified the IAEA of its plan to increase uranium enrichment up to 60 percent purity.

Earlier in the month, the Natanz enrichment facility was targeted in what Iranian authorities called “an act of nuclear terrorism”, accusing Israel of the covert operation and even identified a culprit, who, however, had left the country even before the explosion and subsequent fire at the nuclear site. Israel, in its turn, hasn’t officially commented on the incident.

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