Iran has enriched uranium to 63 percent — dangerously close to weapons-grade and far beyond the 3.67 percent allowed under the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal — the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a confidential report obtained by Reuters.
The new purity levels are higher than the 60 percent Iranian President Hassan Rouhani last month threatened to reach in response to Israel’s “nuclear terrorism” with the bombing of the Natanz nuclear facility.
“According to Iran, fluctuations of the enrichment levels… were experienced,” the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in the report.
“The agency’s analysis of the ES [environmental samples] taken on 22 April 2021 shows an enrichment level of up to 63 percent U-235, which is consistent with the fluctuations of the enrichment levels [described by Iran],” the document said.
Sixty-three percent enrichment leaves a short technical step for centrifuges to obtain weapons-grade 90 percent enrichment or higher. The Obama-led agreement, which the Biden Administration is hoping to rejoin, allows for enriched uranium up to 3.67 percent.
Iran’s proclamations that it seeks nuclearization for peaceful purposes fly in the face of its perpetual threats to annihilate Israel.
An April 11 blast at the Natanz facility saw the power supply cut and thousands of centrifuges destroyed, reportedly setting back the country’s nuclear program by nine months.
Iran blamed Israel for the attack. Rouhani addressed Israel in televised remarks at the time, saying that the uranium enrichment “is the response to your malice. What you did was nuclear terrorism. What we do is legal.”
The news comes as the U.S. and Iran hold indirect talks in Vienna to discuss a return to the shattered 2015 nuclear deal with world powers from which former president Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.