Iran threatens to restart centrifuges ramp up enrichment in next nuclear steps

REUTERS:

Iran threatened on Monday to restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up its enrichment of uranium to 20 percent purity as its next potential big moves away from a 2015 nuclear agreement that Washington abandoned last year.

The threats, made by the spokesman for Tehran’s nuclear agency, would go far beyond the small steps Iran has taken in the past week to nudge its stocks of fissile material just beyond limits in the nuclear pact.

That could raise serious questions about whether the agreement, intended to block Iran from making a nuclear weapon, is still viable.

The two threats would reverse major achievements of the agreement, although Iran omitted important details about how far it might go to returning to the status quo before the pact, when Western experts believed it could build a bomb within months.

In a separate standoff, Iran’s foreign minister accused Britain on Monday of “piracy, pure and simple” for seizing an Iranian oil tanker last week. Britain says the ship was bound for Syria in violation of European Union sanctions.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, confirmed an announcement that Tehran had enriched uranium beyond the deal’s limit of 3.67% purity, passing 4.5%, according to the student’s news agency ISNA.

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