Iran testing superior nuclear centrifuge that will enable sooner uranium enrichment

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will discuss Iran’s new nuclear achievements during the National Nuclear Energy Day of Iran on April 10, 2021 in Tehran.

Iranian Presidency Office | RT

Iran said on Saturday it has started mechanical testing of its latest advanced nuclear centrifuge despite the fact that the five world powers that remain in a fallen nuclear deal with Iran from 2015 are trying to re-enlist the US in the deal.

When the Iranian IR-9 centrifuge is in operation, uranium isotopes can be separated faster than the centrifuges currently in use, thereby enriching uranium more quickly. The announcement on state television was made on Iran’s 15th annual “Nuclear Day”.

The output of the IR-9 is 50 times faster than that of the first Iranian centrifuge, the IR-1. The country also announced it launched a chain of 164 IR-6 centrifuges on Saturday and is also currently developing IR-8 centrifuges.

Since January, Iran has started enriching uranium to up to 20% purity, a technical step away from weapon quality, despite the Iranian leadership insisting that the country has no desire to develop a nuclear weapon.

Former US President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the nuclear deal in 2018, accusing Iran of violating the deal and opting for a US sanctions and other tough measures heightened as a maximum pressure campaign.

Iran responded by stepping up its uranium enrichment and building centrifuges, clearly in violation of the agreement, and insisted that its nuclear development serve civil, not military, purposes.

Israel claims Iran continues to have ambitions to develop nuclear weapons, citing Tehran’s ballistic missile program and research into other technologies.

Iran denies operating nuclear weapons and says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Iran’s 20% enriched uranium supply has reached 55 kilograms, bringing its nuclear program closer to weapon grade enrichment. The amount of material in January was 17 kilograms.

Iran has installed 1,000 IR2 centrifuge machines and a cascade of 164 IR4 machines. Both are in operation and faster than the IR1 machines.

Since the end of February, Iran has no longer adhered to a confidential agreement with the United Nations nuclear watchdog that was made under the groundbreaking 2015 nuclear deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency has additional protocols with several of the countries it monitors.

As part of the protocol with Iran, the IAEA collects and analyzes “hundreds of thousands of images taken daily by their sophisticated surveillance cameras,” the agency said in 2017. The agency also stated at the time that “2,000 tamper-evident seals were affixed to nuclear material have “and equipment.”

However, the Iranian parliament passed a law in December requiring the government to restrict its cooperation with the IAEA and postpone its nuclear program beyond the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal. After the law went into effect, Iran began enriching uranium up to 20% purity and spinning advanced centrifuges – both of which are excluded by the deal.

Iran argues that the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal was the first breach of the deal by either district. Hence, the US must take the first step and lift the sanctions before Iran returns to compliance.

President Joe Biden came into office saying it was a priority to get back into the deal and put Iran’s nuclear program back under international restrictions. However, Iran and the United States disagreed on Iran’s demands to lift the sanctions first. This standstill threatens to become an early foreign policy setback for the new US president.

Talks in Vienna, aimed at re-including the US in the deal with Iran, broke out on Friday with no immediate sign of progress on Washington-Tehran issues.

However, the delegates spoke of a constructive atmosphere and decided to continue the discussions.

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