EghtesadOnline: Iran’s nuclear chief said on Monday that the country is now producing more low-enriched uranium daily, after restarting the underground facility at Fordow.
Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi made the announcement, as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called on political factions to support the troubled nuclear deal, saying it could open up international arms sales for Iran next year.
Iran has exceeded some of the deal’s limits in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the accord between Tehran and world powers over a year ago and Europe’s failure to make up for the economic damage caused by the reimposed US sanctions.
Salehi told AP journalists in Tehran that Iran is now producing at least 5.5 kilograms daily, according to Financial Tribune.
Earlier, Tehran had been producing about 450 grams of low-enriched uranium per day.
He said it is due in part to restarting enrichment at the Fordow nuclear facility.
“I believe [that] in total, 5.5 kilograms is the daily volume of uranium enrichment in Natanz and Fordow,” Salehi said, mentioning Iran’s other nuclear facility at Natanz.
Iran currently enriches uranium to up to 4.5%, far below weapons-grade levels of 90%.
However, the more uranium it enriches over time will begin to narrow the so-called “breakout period” Iran would need to have enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb—should it choose to build one.
Analysts had put that time at a year, under the restrictions of the 2015 nuclear deal.
Iran maintains its nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes. However, western powers pushed for the nuclear deal over their trumped-up concerns about the program.
Rouhani spoke on Monday in the city of Rafsanjan in the southwestern province of Kerman, as part of a provincial tour.
He made a point to stress that “by continuing the nuclear deal, we will reach a huge political, defensive and security goal”.
“If we save the nuclear deal, Iran’s arms embargo will be lifted and we can buy weapons or sell our weapons to the world. This is one of the deal’s significant impacts,” Rouhani said.
The end of the weapons embargo, imposed by the United Nations, has already worried the US administration.
Under the terms of the deal, a United Nations-imposed arms embargo on Iran is slated to be lifted in October 2020, five years after the accord’s adoption.