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Director of Fordow nuclear facility says it is ready for 20% enrichment

The director noted that with the recent developments at Fordow, the country’s enrichment capacity would increase by 15%

TEHRAN, November 13. /TASS/. Iranian nuclear facility in Fordow is ready for 20% uranium enrichment, the Mehr news agency quotes the director of Fordow nuclear plant Shahid Alimohammadi as saying.

The director noted that with the recent developments at Fordow, the country’s enrichment capacity would increase by 15% to 20%.

"Previously, we had about 6,000 SWU [separate work units, the amount of separation done by an enrichment process — TASS] enrichment capacity, which was once raised by 2,662 SWU and now by about 1,000 SWU within the framework of Iran's reduction of JCPOA commitments," he said. "These increases have brought the country’s enrichment capacity to over 6,500 SWU, nearly the capacity we had before the JCPOA was put into effect," the director added.

"All activities at Fordow are carried out by Iranian experts. The only exception is our cooperation with the Russian side on stable isotopes," he noted.

On November 5, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that Tehran would take the next step to reduce its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by activating centrifuges at the Fordow uranium enrichment plant. In accordance with the 2015 JCPOA, Iran had to modernize the Fordow plant under international observers’ supervision. The envisioned modernization was supposed to make this facility impossible to be used for military purposes.

On November 6, the ISNA agency informed that Iran began to pump gas into the centrifuges at Fordow, which signified the fourth stage of Tehran’s reduction of obligations under the JCPOA.

Iran nuclear deal issue

In 2015, Iran and six major powers (five member states of the United Nations Security Council — Russia, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and China — and Germany) agreed on the final Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which particularly stipulated the removal of sanctions imposed on Tehran over its nuclear program.

On May 8, 2018, US President Donald Trump announced Washington’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Washington imposed previous sanctions on Iran and introduced new ones.

On May 8, 2019, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran was reducing its commitments under the JCPOA. He pointed out that the other signatories had two months to return to compliance. The deadline expired on July 7. On July 8, Spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Behrouz Kamalvandi reported that Tehran had exceeded the uranium enrichment level of 3.67%. Iran pledged that it would continue to reduce commitments every 60 days unless other participants restored compliance.

On September 6, Iran announced the third step to scale down commitments under the nuclear deal, abandoning restrictions on nuclear research. Tehran explained the move by saying that the European JCPOA signatories had failed to fully comply with their obligations.