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Iran begins 60% uranium enrichment

An unidentified International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector disconnects the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium production at nuclear research centre of Natanz, some 300 kilometres south of Tehran on 20 January, 2014 [KAZEM GHANE/IRNA/AFP via Getty Images]
An unidentified International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector disconnects the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium production at nuclear research centre of Natanz, some 300 kilometres south of Tehran on 20 January, 2014 [KAZEM GHANE/IRNA/AFP via Getty Images]

Iran has begun 60 per cent uranium enrichment at its Natanz plant, the country's nuclear chief said today, days after an explosion at the site that Tehran blamed on Israel, Reuters reported.

"We are producing about nine grams of 60% enriched uranium an hour," Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said. "But we have to work on arrangements to drop it to 5 grams per hour."

Earlier, Parliament Speaker Mohammad Ghalibaf said Iranian scientists had successfully started enriching 60 per cent uranium at 12:40am local time (08:10 GMT).

"The will of the Iranian nation makes miracles that thwart any conspiracy," Ghalibaf said on Twitter.

Iran has said its decision to increase enrichment to its highest level ever was in response to sabotage at its key nuclear site at Natanz on Sunday by Israel.

Iran and global powers are meeting in Vienna to try to rescue a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned by Washington three years ago.

The 2015 agreement sought to make it harder for Iran to develop an atomic bomb – something it denies ever trying to do — in return for lifting sanctions.

Abbas Araqchi, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator at nuclear talks in Vienna, said earlier this week that Iran would activate 1,000 advanced centrifuge machines at Natanz.

An Iranian official told Reuters that "60% enrichment will be in small quantity" only.

Israel, which opposes the nuclear deal, has not formally commented on the incident at Natanz.

Rouhani: Iran to reduce uranium enrichment to 3.67% if US rejoins nuclear deal

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