(JNS) Iran has begun enriching uranium with the advanced centrifuges it installed at its underground Natanz nuclear facility in Isfahan, according to a new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report. The report, dated Tuesday, Nov. 17 states: “On 14 November 2020, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding UF6 [uranium hexafluoride] into the recently installed cascade of 174 IR-2m centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) in Natanz,” according to Reuters. The report comes nearly a week after the IAEA’s revelation that Iran had completed the transfer of the above cascade from an above-ground plant to the underground facility at Natanz.
The move is the latest Iranian breach of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers from which President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018. The JCPOA stipulates that only first-generation IR-1 centrifuges can be operated at Natanz’s underground facility.
In early September, Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, announced plans to build a new production hall for advanced centrifuges near the Natanz site. The facility is slated to replace one that was damaged in a fire on Aug. 2 that Iran has attributed to sabotage.
“Due to the sabotage, it was decided to build a more modern, larger and more comprehensive hall in all dimensions in the heart of the mountain near Natanz. Of course, the work has begun,” Salehi told state TV. In October, IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi confirmed that Iran had started construction on the plant.
Main Photo: Anti-aircraft guns at Iran’s Natanz uranium-enrichment facility. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.