Iran boosts uranium enrichment in nuclear power

Iran Announced on Monday that it had raised its uranium enrichment level, making it closer to growth The ability to make nuclear weapons within six months.

The enrichment was resumed by 20 percent, the latest increase that was limited after President Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal Iran Promotion level of 4 to 5 percent.

In another provocation, Iran seized a South Korean chemical tanker citing “environmental and chemical pollution concerns”. Semi tantric news agency Reported.

Confiscation of vessel, Confirmed Comes by the South Korean government, as Tehran is pressuring the United States to release $ 7 billion in frozen funds due to sanctions.

Further adding to the tension, the Pentagon said on Sunday that it had ordered the aircraft carrier Nimitz to remain in the Middle East, Just three days after the ship was directed to go home In an effort to ease the escalating tension with Tehran.

Defense Minister Christopher C. Miller’s Executive Secretary Christopher C. “Due to recent threats made by Iranian leaders against President Trump and other US government officials, I have ordered the USS Nimitz to stop its regular deployment,” Miller said. in a statement.

Ali Rabi, a spokesman for the Iranian government, told the state-run IRNA news agency on Monday that President Hassan Rouhani ordered a law passed last week to implement a law that authorizes new enrichment levels.

“A few minutes ago, the process of producing 20 percent enriched uranium at the Fordow enrichment complex has begun,” Mr. Rabiei told Iran’s Semi-Maihar news agency.

Up to that level it is not enough to make rich fuel bombs, but it is close. Achieving up to 20 percent from the current level is much more difficult than moving to 90 percent purity from the level that is traditionally used for bomb-grade fuels.

Fordow is Iran’s newest nuclear facility, And embedded deep inside a mountain on a well-guarded base of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Successfully striking it Will require repeated attacks With the largest bunker-bombing bomb in the US arsenal.

The decision to promote uranium enrichment, while not surprising, was officially reached after the assassination in November Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsin Fakhrizadeh, has long been recognized by American and Israeli intelligence services as the guide behind a covert effort to design a nuclear warhead.

This coincides with the first anniversary of the assassination of a revered military commander, Qasim Sulemani, In the United States missile attack.

In a short time StatementIsraeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued to work on his intention to “develop a military nuclear program” on Iran.

“Israel will not allow Iran to build nuclear weapons,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

The European Union said on Monday that Iran’s decision to increase uranium enrichment would be “quite a departure” from the commitments made in 2015.

A spokesman for the block, Peter Steno, said that Brussels would wait until a briefing from the director of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, expected later Monday to take action. France, Britain and Germany are all signatories of the 2015 agreement.

A South Korean-flagged tanker was flown into Oman on Monday when Iranian authorities demanded that it go into Iranian waters for investigation. The ship had 20 crew members, including five South Koreans.

“The Foreign Ministry and our embassy in Iran have noted the detailed circumstances of our ship’s seizure and confirmed the safety of the crew,” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We are asking for the early release of the ship.”

The Ministry of Defense in Seoul said it was sending water to the South Korean Navy destroyer Choi Yong where the tanker was seized, issuing a precautionary warning to other South Korean ships sailing in the water. The destroyer of the Navy has been on an anti-piracy mission in the area.

Iranian officials have always ensured that their nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes and not for weapons. But he expressed anger and avenge the killing of nuclear scientist Mr. Fakhrizadeh.

In December, Iranian lawmakers passed a law ordering immediate enforcement of the uranium enrichment program and expelling international nuclear inspectors if US sanctions were not lifted in early February, with President-elect Joseph R. . Challenging Biden Jr. directly. .

Mr. Biden’s incoming national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, has expressed optimism that the 2015 nuclear deal can still be saved.

In Foreign affairs article In May, Mr. Sullivan and Daniel Benim, Mr. Biden’s Middle East adviser when he was vice president, argued that the United States should immediately reestablish nuclear diplomats with Iran and dispose of the 2015 nuclear deal . , “And then work with the Allies and Iran” to negotiate a follow-up agreement. “

Appearing on CNN on Sunday, Mr. Sullivan said that his missile capabilities would be negotiated as soon as Iran complies with the 2015 nuclear deal.

“In that broad conversation, we can finally secure a limit on Iran’s ballistic missile technology,” Mr. Sullivan said, “and this is what we want to try to pursue through diplomacy.”

But the missile program was not included in the previous agreement because the Iranians refused to commit to any limits on their development or testing.

And said it determined that the Iranians would be prepared to return to the terms of the 2015 agreement under any circumstances.

Reporting was contributed by Adam Rasgon from Jerusalem and Choe Sang-hun from Seoul.

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