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Iran Using Advanced Centrifuges To Rapidly Expand Uranium Enrichment as Nuclear Agreement Stalled

Iran has brought online more advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium at its underground Natanz plant and plans to move forward with its enrichment capabilities, the UN nuclear watchdog said in a confidential report. The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency was seen by Reuters and reported exclusively on Monday. The use of the advanced centrifuges comes as the talks to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement between the world powers and Iran, and the indirect talks between the United States and Iran, have stalled. The agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, does not allow Iran to use advanced centrifuges, which are far more efficient than first-generation IR-1 centrifuges. The IAEA ad hoc report to member states noted that Iran has in the last month installed seven new clusters of advanced centrifuges at Natanz, including one cascade of IR-4 centrifuges, though they are not yet enriching uranium. Iran recently installed and brought online three cascades of IR-6 centrifuges, Iran’s most advanced machines, at Natanz. Iran signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the P5+1 group of world powers – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US) plus Germany – in July 2015. The agreement calls for Iran to curb its nuclear program in return for the removal of sanctions on the country. Many of the agreement’s provisions, including the limits set on Iran’s enrichment of uranium, were to expire after 15 years. Former US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, prompting the latter to violate its own commitments under the pact. Talks on reviving the agreement first began in April 2021.