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Biden says Iran enriching uranium to 60% not ‘helpful’ to nuke deal talks

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17.04.2021

AP — US President Joe Biden on Friday rebuked Iran, which earlier in the day began enriching uranium to its highest-ever purity, edging close to weapons-grade levels, calling the move unhelpful.

Iran’s moves come as it attempts to pressure negotiators in Vienna amid talks on restoring its nuclear deal with world powers after an attack on its main enrichment site.

In Washington, Biden said Tehran’s latest step was contrary to the deal. “We do not support and do not think it’s at all helpful,” he said. But he added that the Vienna talks had not been sidetracked.

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“We are nonetheless pleased that Iran has agreed to continue to engage in indirect discussions with us on how we move forward and what is needed to get back” into the nuclear deal, he said. “It’s premature to make a judgment as to what the outcome will be, but we’re still talking.

Earlier, a top Iranian official said only a few grams an hour of uranium gas would be enriched up to 60% purity — triple its previous level but at a quantity far lower than what the Islamic Republic had been able to produce. Iran also is enriching at an above-ground facility at its Natanz nuclear site already visited by international inspectors, not deep within underground halls hardened to withstand airstrikes.

The narrow scope of the new enrichment provides Iran with a way to quickly de-escalate if it choses, experts say, but time is narrowing. An Iranian presidential election looms on the horizon as Tehran already is threatening to limit international inspections. Israel, suspected of carrying out Sunday’s sabotage at Natanz, also could act again amid a long-running shadow war between the two Middle East rivals.

Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, Iran’s parliament speaker, announced the higher enrichment on Twitter.

“The young and God-believing Iranian scientists managed to achieve a 60% enriched uranium product,” Qalibaf said. “I congratulate........

© The Times of Israel


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