Iran has resumed 20% uranium enrichment at its Fordow underground nuclear facility, government spokesman told semi-official Mehr news agency in major breach of nuclear deal from 2015.
“A few minutes ago, the process of producing 20% enriched uranium started at the Fordow enrichment complex,” Ali Rabeie told Mehr on Monday.
The announcement comes after the United States rolled back the decision to bring an aircraft carrier home from the Gulf, with the Pentagon saying that due to “recent threats” from Iran, the USS Nimitz would remain in operation. position.
The Nimitz has been patrolling the waters of the Gulf since late November. In a Dec. 31 statement, Acting US Secretary of Defense Christopher C Miller ordered the ship to “return home directly for a deployment of nearly 10 months.”
While he did not specify the threats involved, the US statement came on the first anniversary of a US drone raid in Baghdad that killed venerable Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi lieutenant Abu Mahdi. al-Muhandis.
On Sunday, thousands of Iraqi mourners chanted “revenge” and “no to America” as they marched through the capital Baghdad and other cities.
The anniversary of the drone attack in Baghdad has also been marked in recent days across Iran and by supporters in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and elsewhere.
Non-compliance with the nuclear agreement
According to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal, Iran’s uranium enrichment level must remain at 3.67%, and Iran would not keep more than 6,104 of the nearly 20,000 centrifuges he owns.
There are two uranium enrichment facilities in Iran – at Natanz and at Fordow. As part of the deal, which was concluded on July 14, 2015, Natanz’s facility was limited to installing no more than 5,060 of the oldest and least efficient centrifuges for 10 years.
At Fordo, no enrichment was allowed for 15 years and the underground facility was to be transformed into a nuclear, physical and technological center.
Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the landmark nuclear deal and world powers in 2018 and launched a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, reimposing and strengthening crippling sanctions.
The two countries have been on the verge of war twice since June 2019, especially after the murder of Soleimani.
Days after Soleimani’s assassination, Iran launched a volley of missiles at Iraqi bases housing US and other coalition troops, with Trump refraining from any further military response.
Reacting to the Pentagon’s overthrow of its decision to bring back the aircraft carrier, Iran’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday that the country’s military and security organizations were closely monitoring the situation in the Gulf.
“The necessary messages were explicitly and transparently sent to Washington through various channels and messages were also sent directly to all countries in the Persian Gulf region so as not to fall prey to such misdeeds,” the door said. -says Saeed Khatibzadeh during a press briefing.
Last week Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had a telephone interview with his Qatari counterpart Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, shortly after Al Thani spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about tensions in the region.
Khatibzadeh also reiterated Zarif’s recent claim that Israel is trying to push Iran and the United States into a larger conflict by hitting U.S. targets in Iraq.
Zarif said on Twitter on Saturday: “New intelligence from Iraq indicates that Israeli agent provocateurs are planning attacks on Americans – putting a [President Donald] Trump in a bind with a fake casus belli.
“Watch out for the pitfalls, @realDonaldTrump. Any fireworks will backfire, especially against your very BFFs, ”Zarif wrote.