IAEA: Iran expands uranium enrichment to high levels

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran has begun expanding its enrichment of uranium to a purity of more than 20 percent at a plant in Natanz, where it is already enriching uranium to 60 percent, but the new activity does not include keeping this product.

The move is likely to help Iran enhance its knowledge of the enrichment process - something Western powers generally condemn as irreversible - but because this time the product will not be preserved it will not immediately accelerate Iran's production of weapons-grade enriched uranium .

But the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report seen by Reuters that this prompted the agency to "increase the frequency and intensity of its monitoring activities at the above-ground fuel enrichment pilot plant in Natanz".

Uranium is considered weapon-grade, with a purity of about 90 percent.

In a statement that outlined the main points of the report, the IAEA said Iran informed it last week of changes to the setup of centrifuges, the machines that enrich uranium, at the plant - where Iran will feed uranium enriched up to 20 percent in limited numbers of centrifuges. Additional without assembling the product.

Iran has yet to announce a date for resuming talks in Vienna on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal under which it curbed its nuclear program in return for relief from economic sanctions imposed by the United States, the European Union and the United Nations.

Former US President Donald Trump abandoned the agreement in 2018 and reimposed tough US sanctions.

About a year later, Iran began violating some of the agreement's limits on uranium enrichment.

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