Iran continues installing next-generation uranium enrichment centrifuges

Tehran, Feb 23 (FN Agency) Iran is pressing ahead with upgrading its uranium enrichment capabilities at two facilities as the US has yet to lift the sanctions past Tehran’s deadline, government spokesman Ali Rabiei said Tuesday. Iran had set February 22 as the latest date by which Washington must lift the strangling economic sanctions lest it boot international observers from the country.

In last gasp negotiations over the weekend, Tehran agreed to keep monitoring and verification of its nuclear program ongoing, albeit in a limited capacity. “The number of new-generation centrifuges installed at nuclear facilities in Fordow and Natanz [Nuclear Fuel Enrichment Plants], at the moment is 492 IR-2M devices, which have already been supplied with gas, 492 more centrifuges of this generation are being installed. I hope that the process will be completed within the next month,” Rabiei said at a press briefing in Tehran.

Iranian parliament adopted legislation last year which paves the way for 20 percent enrichment, overriding the limits of the Iran nuclear deal. The latest domestically-developed IR-4 and IR-6 centrifuges, similarly prohibited in the deal, were given the go-ahead for installation to enable enrichment to blow past the 3.67 percent cap. Washington and Tehran are currently caught in a diplomatic catch 22, with each side demanding the other make the first step. US President Joe Biden signaled readiness to engage Iran at the negotiation table but only on the condition it suspend uranium enrichment, while Tehran continues to demand confidence-building sanctions removal in order to revert to the text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.