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APRIL 2021

Iran Begins Enriching Uranium With New Centrifuge Cascade

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Iran Begins Enriching Uranium With New Centrifuge Cascade

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As of March 31st, Iran is enriching uranium with its forth cascade of advanced IR-2m machines at its Natanz plant, a new report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.

The UN nuclear agency reported on March 8 that Tehran had begun enriching uranium with the third cascade of advanced IR-2m centrifuges at its Natanz nuclear facility.

“On 31 March 2021, the Agency verified at FEP (Fuel Enrichment Plant) that: Iran had begun feeding natural UF6 into a fourth cascade of 174 IR-2m centrifuges,” read the report obtained by Reuters said.

Iran had informed the IAEA of its plans to use six cascades of IR-2m machines to enrich uranium, the report said, adding that the remaining two cascades were installed but not yet enriching.

“In summary, as of 31 March 2021, the Agency verified that Iran was using 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges installed in 30 cascades, 696 IR-2m centrifuges installed in four cascades and 174 IR-4 centrifuges installed in one cascade to enrich natural UF6 up to 5% U-235 at FEP,” added the report.

On March 15, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said that Iran had “begun feeding a newly installed cascade of 174 IR-4 centrifuges” to enrich uranium hexafluoride gas up to 5 percent purity.

“On 15 March 2021, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding the cascade of 174 IR-4 centrifuges already installed at FEP with natural UF6,” Grossi said.

The Iranian Parliament ratified a bill late last year to task the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) with producing and storing at least 120 kilograms of enriched uranium with a 20-percent purity level every year for peaceful purposes.

The European Union issued a statement later on April 1st, announcing that officials from the remaining participants to the JCPOA, including Iran, China, Russia, France, Germany and Britain, will meet through videoconference on April 2nd to discuss the possible return of the US to the deal.

“Participants will discuss the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, France’s foreign ministry spokeswoman told reporters in a daily briefing that the European powers were working closely with Russia and China to find a solution to the deadlock and have been talking with both Tehran and Washington, Reuters reported.

“These exchanges are more than necessary because Iran has not accepted to take part in direct contacts between the other participants of the JCPOA and the United States … which would have eased discussions,” spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said.

Tehran has repeatedly said that unless the United States lifts the sanctions against it, there was no use of it rejoining the JCPOA, since it is simply an empty undertaking.

President Hassan Rouhani has criticized the new US administration’s foot-dragging on a return to compliance with the multilateral nuclear deal with Iran that it abandoned in 2018, saying Washington has so far failed to seize the “golden chance” for a “win-win bargain.”

“As Leader [of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei] announced, if they (the US) return to the JCPOA, Iran will also return to its commitments,” Rouhani said on Thursday, referring to the nuclear deal by the acronym of its formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“This would mean a win-win bargain for the region and the entire world, which would benefit them. The Americans were not able to understand that and failed to seize this golden opportunity. They have been dragging their feet, and we have been getting messages and news, which show this new [US] administration is far from the reality about Iran,” the Iranian president said.

He said that the US was waging an economic war against Iran, and that it was obligated to end it

“We did not begin this war. Even after this war was imposed on us, we continued to fulfill all our commitments [based on the JCPOA] for a full year,” describing the patience as “the biggest honor of the Iranian nation in moral, political and historical terms.”

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