Iran resumes 20% enrichment amid rising tensions with U.S.
January 5, 2021 - Iran has resumed enriching uranium to 20 percent purity, violating a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, in a move likely to further escalate tensions with the United States.
Iran also seized a South Korean-flagged chemical tanker on Monday, saying the ship had violated environmental rules.
Both moves came a day after the one-year anniversary of the U.S. killing of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, and less than three weeks before the end of Donald Trump’s presidency, CNN reported.
As tensions continue to rise, President Trump directed the Pentagon to keep a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Middle East, reversing a decision to send it out of the region last week.
An Iranian government spokesman said Monday that experts had restarted uranium enrichment towards a 20 percent target at its underground Fordow nuclear facility, according to semi-official news agency Mehr and state news agency IRNA.
Iran currently enriches its uranium stockpile up to around 4.5 percent, which is above the 3.67 percent cap imposed by a 2015 deal with world powers, but far short of the 90 percent that is considered weapons-grade. Iran has continually denied it intends to build nuclear weapons.