Iran Announces Plans to Enrich Uranium to 20%
On Saturday, Iran announced that it plans to enrich its uranium at the Fordo nuclear facility to 20% "as soon as possible."
The move, which was approved by the Iranian parliament, would push Iran very close to weapons-grade levels. One of the goals of the decision is to increase pressure on Europe to provide sanctions relief for Iran. US Officials are concerned that this is yet another escalation in an already tense relationship between Iran and the US.
Tensions have been high since President Trump pulled out of the Tehran Nuclear Deal in 2018 and were escalated even more when a U.S. drone strike killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, nearly a year ago.
US Officials are concerned that Iran may have some sort of retaliation planned for the anniversary of the drone strike, which is this Sunday.
Iran had originally planned to enrich uranium to 20% a decade ago which nearly resulted in an Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities and led to heightened tension in the region for several years. The tension only abated when the 2015 Tehran Nuclear Deal was put in place. President-Elect Joe Biden has said he is willing to re-enter the deal.
The International Atomic Energy Agency acknowledged that Iran had informed them of its intentions, "Iran has informed the agency that in order to comply with a legal act recently passed by the country’s parliament, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran intends to produce low-enriched uranium ... up to 20 percent at the Fordo Fuel Enrichment Plant."
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