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EghtesadOnline: Iran increased its uranium enrichment capacity by 50% to reach 9,500 SWU (separative work unit) in two months and is able to further expand it to over 20,000 SWU within a month, a top nuclear official said.

The measures are in line with a plan to gradually exceed limits set in the 2015 nuclear deal in response to the US withdrawal last year and exertion of intensive economic pressure that the remaining parties have been unable to alleviate. 

"The limits in JCPOA were defined to have a smooth flow so that we move forward [with nuclear plans] in a measured manner, but with America's behavior, we decided to implement certain measures faster," Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said in a radio interview, ISNA reported. 

He used the abbreviation for the nuclear deal's official name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, according to Financial Tribune.

The purpose of the reciprocal plan was to restore balance to the deal while also inducing European parties to take effective action to protect Iran against US sanctions as they have pledged. 

Europe has introduced several initiatives for the purpose, but none has had a tangible effect on Iranian economy so far. 

Iran has gone beyond the deal's limits in four phases, the latest of which was implemented last week with the start of uranium enrichment at the Fordow nuclear facility, a site where the activity was banned until 2030 under JCPOA and only some centrifuges for research purposes were allowed. 

In the previous stages, Tehran had moved away from its JCPOA commitments on nuclear enrichment purity and stockpiles of enriched uranium, as well as research and development, including the deployment of advanced centrifuges used to enrich uranium.

The AEOI chief said the measures were not essential at this point in technical terms, but "by implementing them we showed that we have the capability".

The moves also prove, according to Salehi, that Iran had been smart enough not to "burn its bridges" and has even built other bridges so as to make a better return. 


Iran AEOI Enrichment Capacity Uranium Enrichment Capacity Capable Ramping Up