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Iran Plans to Enrich Uranium to 20% Purity

Iran plans to enrich uranium to 20% purity, a major breach of the nearly defunct nuclear deal it signed in 2015 with the world powers. The International Atomic Energy Agency announced Friday that Iran had informed the nuclear watchdog of its intentions. The IAEA said in the announcement that Iran has not indicated when the increased enrichment would start.

Under the deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran agreed to keep enrichment at below 4%. Iran has been violating more and more terms of the nuclear deal since the United States left it in 2018 and snapped back economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic. President-elect Joe Biden has said he would rejoin the agreement if Iran resumes compliance with it. Iran has said it would return to compliance if the United States lifts its sanctions.

Iran told the IAEA that the higher enrichment would take place at its underground Fordow plant, which is reinforced against arial bombardment. It is also a place where, under the nuclear deal, enrichment is forbidden. Iran has been enriching uranium at about 4.5% for the last year. Weapons-grade uranium is at least 90% enriched.