The Iranian regime on Monday began enriching uranium beyond the 3.67% purity limit set by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, according to the United Nations nuclear watchdog.
“Director General Yukiya Amano has informed the IAEA Board of Governors that Agency inspectors on 8 July verified that Iran is enriching uranium above 3.67% U-235,” an International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman said, referring to the fissile uranium-235 isotope.
An IAEA report to member states obtained by Reuters said the agency had verified the enrichment level using online enrichment monitors, and samples had also been taken on Monday for analysis. It did not say exactly what purity level the Iranian regime was enriching at, only that it was above the 3.67% limit.
The report added that Tehran had informed the agency on Monday that “based on the operator’s assessment” the enrichment level was about 4.5%. A spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said earlier on Monday that the level had passed 4.5%, according to the state-run ISNA news agency.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Iranian regime’s nuclear agency, confirmed the increased enrichment to the Associated Press.
“At the moment our enrichment is at around 4.5%,” Kamalvandi said.
Kamalvandi separately hinted in a state television interview broadcast Monday that Tehran might consider going to 20% enrichment or higher as a third step. That would worry nuclear nonproliferation experts because 20% is a short technical step away from reaching weapons-grade levels of 90%. Kamalvandi also suggested using new or more centrifuges, which are limited by the deal.