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Iran responds to Natanz sabotage with 60% uranium enrichment

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Kamal Saini
Kamal S. has been Journalist and Writer for Business, Hardware and Gadgets at Revyuh.com since 2018. He deals with B2b, Funding, Blockchain, Law, IT security, privacy, surveillance, digital self-defense and network policy. As part of his studies of political science, sociology and law, he researched the impact of technology on human coexistence. Email: kamal (at) revyuh (dot) com

Iran announced on Tuesday that it will begin enriching uranium to a purity of 60% in response to the sabotage of its Natanz plant

Iran announced Tuesday that it will begin enriching uranium to 60% purity in response to the sabotage of its Natanz plant, which it blames on Israel, complicating the already tense nuclear negotiations underway.

The main Iranian negotiator and deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, reported that his country has communicated this measure in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in charge of supervising compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement.

From Vienna, where he will participate in the aforementioned negotiations, Araghchi revealed to the Iranian state media that they are going to install “another 1,000 centrifuges with 50% more capacity at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.”

Under the 2015 pact, known as JCPOA, Iran is prohibited from enriching uranium to more than 3.67%, although that limit was already exceeded to 20% last January, and it cannot use advanced centrifuges either.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, said in February that there was “the possibility of increasing enrichment up to 60% according to the country’s needs,” although that purity is not justified except for military purposes and is close to 90% necessary to produce an atomic bomb.

Strengthen Iran’s position

The explosion in Natanz on Sunday, which caused a power outage and damaged an unknown number of centrifuges, has disrupted the negotiations, in which the United States indirectly participates, which left the JCPOA in 2018.

Although it continues to investigate, Iran has held its enemy Israel responsible for the sabotage. This country, a firm opponent of the nuclear agreement, has neither denied nor confirmed its authorship, while the US has assured that it was “not involved in any way.”

“Americans should know that neither sanctions nor acts of sabotage are good tools to negotiate and these actions will only make the situation more difficult for them,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stressed.

In a press appearance with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, visiting Tehran, Zarif also warned Israel that he has made “a very bad bet if he thought the attack would weaken Iran’s hand in nuclear talks.”

“On the contrary, it will strengthen our position,” insisted Zarif, who had previously said that Iran would push forward its atomic program, but without giving details, and that Natanz’s “war crime” would not go unpunished.

Negotiations to save the JCPOA began last week in Vienna and should be resumed tomorrow with the goal of the US lifting its sanctions and returning to the pact, and that Iran once again fulfills all its commitments.

Negotiations in suspense

“We have no problem in meeting our JCPOA obligations again,” Zarif said, adding, however, that “it is necessary for the US to return to its commitments without delay and lift all sanctions.”

For his part, Lavrov expressed his hope that “it is possible to preserve” the nuclear agreement with Iran, of which his country is a signatory along with China, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany.

The main stumbling block is that Iran is demanding the US lift all its sanctions first, while Washington advocates simultaneous steps and tackling other disputed issues, such as Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional influence.

“For Moscow, the only solution to the problem is the total return and without preconditions of the US to the JCPOA,” said Lavrov, making a common front with his Persian ally, during his meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The head of Russian diplomacy stated that “it is completely useless to ask Iran to accept new conditions under the JCPOA or to act beyond its obligations,” according to the note published by the Iranian presidency.

Hassan Rouhani commented at the meeting that his country wants all parties to comply with what was agreed in 2015: “We are neither willing to accept less than that nor do we seek to achieve more,” he added.

Unknowns of sabotage

What happened on Sunday in Natanz remains unclear and the damage caused to the centrifuges and the Iranian atomic program in general is likely to be much greater than Tehran recognizes.

At the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran they pointed out that “the explosion was not strong enough to destroy everything” and most of the damaged centrifuges are first-generation IR-1s.

At first, Israeli television spoke of a cyberattack carried out by the Mossad secret service. However, later the newspaper “The New York Times”, citing intelligence sources, reported that an explosive device was detonated by remote control.

This incident is not isolated. Iran and Israel are waging a covert war that includes cyberattacks, assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists and sabotage of ships, although neither country publicly acknowledges their actions.

The Natanz plant was, for example, the target of another sabotage last July, which caused a fire in an assembly room for advanced centrifuges, and an attack with the Stuxnet virus in 2010. Israel is suspected of both.

Some acts of dangerous consequences because, as stated Zarif yesterday in a letter to the Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, Iran “reserves the right to take all necessary measures to protect and defend its citizens, its interests and its facilities against any terrorist act.”

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