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Iran starts enriching uranium to 60% purity

THE International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, confirmed that Iran has started the process of enriching uranium to 60% fissile purity at an above-ground nuclear plant at Natanz.

The move has complicated talks aimed at reviving Iran’s nuclear deal with major powers as it is a big step towards producing weapons-grade uranium.

Iran had previously only reached 20% purity, and that was already a breach of the deal, which says Iran can only enrich to 3.67%.

Iran made the step in response to an explosion that damaged equipment at the larger, underground Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz. Tehran blamed Israel and named a man wanted in connection with the blast.

UF6 is uranium hexafluoride, the form in which uranium is fed into centrifuges for enrichment.

“According to Iran’s declaration to the IAEA, the enrichment level of the UF6 produced at PFEP was 55.3% U - 2 3 5 . The Agency took a sample of the produced UF6 for destructive analysis to independently verify the enrichment level declared by Iran. The results of this analysis will be reported by the Agency in due course,” the report said.