03/17/2021, 09.36
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IAEA reports advanced generation uranium enrichment plants in Iran

UN experts: the Islamic Republic has an advanced generation advanced centrifuge (the IR-4) in the Natanz underground plant. Another plant produces uranium with a purity of up to 20%. Iranian Minister: Tehran and Washington must decide whether to reach a "compromise".

Vienna (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iran has begun enrichment of uranium at the Natanz underground plant, with a second generation advanced centrifuge (the IR-4), according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In a note the UN agency reports the Islamic Republic has taken a further step in violation of the nuclear agreement (JCPOA) signed in 2015 with world powers.

Recently, Tehran progressively violated the terms of the pact by easing restrictions on nuclear activities. The first steps in this direction date back to 2019, in response to the May 2018 withdrawal by the then US President Donald Trump from the JCPOA and the reintroduction of the toughest sanctions in history, causing a collapse of the Iranian economy.

"On March 15, 2021 - reads a note published in recent days by the IAEA - “On 15 March 2021, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding the cascade of 174 IR-4 centrifuges already installed at FEP with natural UF6,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in the report to member states dated Monday, referring to uranium hexafluoride, the form in which uranium is fed into centrifuges for enrichment."

Iran has indicated that it now plans to install a second cascade of IR-4 centrifuges at the FEP but installation of that cascade has yet to begin, the report said. Iran has already increased the number of IR-2m machines, which are far more efficient than the IR-1, installed at the underground plant. " “In summary, as of 15 March 2021, Iran was using 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges installed in 30 cascades, 522 IR-2m centrifuges installed in three cascades and 174 IR-4 centrifuges installed in one cascade, to enrich natural UF6 up to 5% U-235 at FEP,” the IAEA report said, referring to the fissile purity of uranium.

The policies of the new US administration headed by Democrat Joe Biden have yet to be defined. The Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif spoke in recent days, who stressed that now the time has come for Washington to decide whether they want to reach a "compromise" to restart the dialogues and the JCPOA.

“Europeans are used to compromise. Iran and the United States are not. The Americans are used to imposing, and we are used to resisting," Mohammad Javad Zarif.  "So now is the time to decide. Will we both compromise and go back to the JCPOA? Or will we go back to our own paths?" 

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