Iran plans major jump in uranium enrichment after Natanz nuclear site attack – The Washington Post

The announcement puts Iran closer to weapons-grade levels of more than 90 percent enrichment and surpasses its present top level of 20 percent.
The relocation adds another major difficulty to settlements to revive a 2015 nuclear deal negotiated between Iran and 6 world powers.

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Iran, in action, increased enriched uranium from the 3.67 percent purity stipulated by the deal to 20 percent.
After an initial meeting recently, both Tehran and Washington identified the negotiations– held indirectly, with European members of the deal shuttling in between U.S. and Iranian delegations– as positive. Iran has actually refused to satisfy directly with the United States.

Talks were set to reconvene in Vienna later on today in between Tehran and the world powers, including the United States. Iran began breaching the accord after President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal in 2018, reimposed the sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the arrangement, and included more than 1,500 extra steps in what his administration called a “maximum pressure” project to paralyze the Iranian economy.

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Israel has actually not publicly commented.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday called Irans vow to increase enrichment “provocative” and said it “casts doubt on Irans severity with regard to the nuclear talks.”
Irans announcement follows an attack on its primary enrichment center at Natanz on Sunday, in what appeared to be an escalation of a shadow war between Israel and Iran over the previous a number of years. There were varying versions of how the attack was carried out, with reports of both a cyberattack and a surge that destroyed power transmission and caused a fire. Iranian authorities blamed Israel for the attack, which they said triggered a blackout and harmed centrifuges.

The Biden administration quickly said the United States had absolutely nothing to do with the occurrence, which Iran appeared excited to use as utilize in the Vienna negotiations.

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In his comments Tuesday, Araghchi said another 1,000 centrifuges with 50 percent more capacity would be deployed at Natanz, in addition to the replacement of the harmed centrifuges.
The attack laid bare the abundance of barriers dealing with diplomats in Vienna, aside from the complex thicket of problems at the heart of the talks. Mediators are worried that Irans upcoming election in June will probably usher in a hard-line government that might be less disposed to dealmaking.
Now the occasions of current days have added fears of a spiraling and incendiary dispute in between Iran and Israel, which is opposed to the 2015 nuclear deal.

Recently, as the Vienna talks got underway, an Iranian ship in the Red Sea was paralyzed by an explosion that Iranian officials said was caused by mines. Then came Sundays attack on the Natanz nuclear center.

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And on Tuesday, the Hyperion Ray, a ship owned by an Israeli company executive, was struck by a missile in the Persian Gulf, according to Israels Channel 12 news, which estimated an unnamed Israeli defense authorities saying the attack was Irans first action to the occurrence at Natanz. Iran had no immediate talk about the reported ship incident.
The ship, which sails under the flag of the Bahamas, was just gently harmed and would dock in the United Arab Emirates for repair work, the channel reported.
” The Natanz event demonstrates in clear terms that spoilers are intent on disrupting talks focused on reviving U.S.-Iran diplomacy,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “A hazardous, escalatory cycle remains in play.”

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The longer it takes to reach a contract in Vienna on how to go back to the offer, she stated, the more the probability of derailment increases. Washington needs to be clear about what sanctions it is willing to lift, while Tehran needs to drop objections to direct talks, she stated.
” Indirect talks have actually provided a way to get this procedure started, however direct diplomacy will be required to reach a sustainable agreement,” she stated.
Irans announcement Tuesday drew instant concern from European officials preparing to take a seat once again with Iranian mediators later on this week in Vienna. Talks that were prepared for Wednesday were pressed back a day after an individual in the E.U. entourage contracted the coronavirus.

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A senior European diplomat knowledgeable about the settlements stated the Iranian move was a significant escalation that had the prospective to derail the talks, considering that the designated level of enrichment strayed well into the realm of military use.

” When you are negotiating, there are some standard principles. One is that you negotiate in great faith. Another is you dont intensify, you dont change the basis of the negotiations,” stated the diplomat, who spoke on the condition of privacy to discuss the continuous talks.
The nuclear deal allows Iran to improve uranium just approximately a 3.67 percent concentration of uranium-235, a fissile isotope, at Natanz, and to maintain a little stockpile of enriched uranium to use as fuel for its nuclear power reactors. Uranium enriched to 20 percent U-235 appropriates for usage in an old, U.S.-supplied research study reactor in Tehran that began running in 1967.

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The U.S. intelligence report had actually pointed out enrichment above 60 percent as a step Iran might take in establishing nuclear weapons if it did not get sanctions relief. In February, Irans supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, cautioned that Iran may take such an action and portrayed it as a sovereign.
Iran would increase its uranium enrichment to “whatever level the nation requires,” he said.

Iran has actually consistently insisted that its nuclear program is planned for tranquil civilian purposes. On Tuesday, the U.S. intelligence neighborhood reported that Iran “is not presently carrying out” essential activities required to produce a nuclear weapon. The finding, which became part of the intelligence agencies Annual Threat Assessment, verified an earlier judgment by the spy firms.

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Irans announcement follows an attack on its main enrichment facility at Natanz on Sunday, in what appeared to be an escalation of a shadow war in between Israel and Iran over the past several years. Iranian authorities blamed Israel for the attack, which they said triggered a blackout and harmed centrifuges.

Morris reported from Washington. Shira Rubin in Tel Aviv, Shane Harris in Washington and Michael Birnbaum in St. Louis added to this report.

Mehrzad Boroujerdi, director of the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech, stated Tehran might attempt to keep the tit-for-tat conflict with Israel under the limit that triggers a dispute, while keeping its eyes on the “significant prize” of raising sanctions through settlements in Vienna.
But both Iran and Israel have domestic considerations that might complicate the image for negotiators, consisting of the Iranian elections.

Another is you dont escalate, you do not change the basis of the negotiations,” stated the diplomat, who spoke on the condition of privacy to go over the continuous talks.
Iran has repeatedly firmly insisted that its nuclear program is meant for peaceful civilian functions. On Tuesday, the U.S. intelligence community reported that Iran “is not presently carrying out” crucial activities needed to produce a nuclear weapon.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has actually withstood calls to step aside as he faces corruption charges, is eyeing a 5th election in two years after failing to win enough of the vote to form a government in the last four surveys.
” He may be more prone to continue with such attacks,” stated Boroujerdi, referring to the suspected Israeli functions in Natanz and the mine blast that struck the Iranian ship in the Red Sea.
” At some point the White House needs to choose whether they desire to enable Israel to torpedo whatever that they desire to finish with Iran, or not.”

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