Iran is ready to increase its uranium enrichment capabilities as the United States continues nuclear deal negotiations in Vienna, according to a United Nations watchdog.
A report by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed on Monday that Iran was preparing to install IR-6 centrifuges at its underground facility in Fordow, according to Reuters. The machines can allow Iran to enrich uranium to 20% purity and potentially more.
Iran was only allowed to install IR-1 centrifuges and enrich uranium to just under 4% under the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran also enriches uranium to 60% purity at another facility, close to the 90% purity required for nuclear weapons.
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Experts say the development is a warning sign for President Joe Biden’s administration that Iran is seeking concessions in the Vienna talks.
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“Iran’s nuclear escalation strategy continues to be defined by two types of acts: increasing the scale and scope of the program through facts on the ground while reducing the monitoring and verification capabilities of the IAEA,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Defense Foundation of Democracies that focuses on Iranian security, told TSWT News Digital. “This combination of fewer eyes and more worries is designed to scare Washington into further concessions in Vienna.”
“The Biden administration needs to step up enforcement of sanctions, especially against the targets the Treasury has exposed since May: those involved in oil and petrochemical sales,” Taleblu continued. “The regime’s illicit sales of oil and petrochemicals literally underpin its regional and nuclear escalation.”
IAEA report comes days before Biden expected trip to saudi arabiawhere he is expected to negotiate lower gas prices and lend weight to negotiations surrounding an Iranian nuclear deal.
Iran abandoned many of the commitments it made in the 2015 nuclear deal after the United States withdrew from it under former President Donald Trump. The Biden administration has made little headway toward another deal.