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Iran Resumes Accelerated Uranium Enrichment, Approaching High Purity Levels

Iran has resumed uranium enrichment at a rapid pace, approaching 60% purity, a level close to weapons-grade material.

Iran has resumed enriching uranium at an accelerated pace, nearing 60% purity, a level close to weapons-grade material, stated the UN nuclear watchdog on Tuesday.

Previous Slowdown and Speculations:

The reversal of the months-long slowdown, initially observed around June, had sparked speculation among diplomats. 

Some believed it was a result of confidential discussions between the United States and Iran, potentially linked to the release of US citizens held in Iran earlier this year.

Enrichment Levels and Denials:

Iran, denying any intent to pursue nuclear weapons, has enough uranium enriched up to 60%, theoretically adequate for the creation of three nuclear bombs. 

The country’s facilities at Natanz and Fordow are involved in the enrichment process, approaching a level close to the 90% mark considered weapons-grade.

IAEA’s Findings and Production Increase:

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported a significant growth in uranium production enriched to 60% at the Natanz and Fordow facilities. 

The recent output surge escalated from an approximate 3 kg monthly rate to around 9 kg per month since November 2023.

Verification and Timing:

IAEA inspectors observed the changes in production at Fordow on Nov. 25, confirmed by Iran as a shift occurring on Nov. 22, reinstating production to pre-slowdown levels. 

A subsequent increase in production at Natanz was noted on Nov. 27. Verification of production levels at Natanz and Fordow was conducted on Dec. 19 and Dec. 24, respectively, before the official notification of the reversal in the slowdown was relayed in Tuesday’s report.

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