Iran said Saturday it’s testing a new and advanced nuclear centrifuge to more effectively enrich uranium, AP reports.
Why it matters: The announcement by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani comes as Tehran and Washington hold indirect talks in an attempt to bring the U.S. back into the 2015 nuclear deal.
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Context: The Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018, accusing Iran of failing to adhere to the agreement, and slapped fresh sanctions on the country.
Iran, in response, stepped up its enrichment efforts by building centrifuges and enriching nuclear materials to levels that violated the deal while insisting that it has no desire to develop a nuclear weapon.
Iran announced in January that it would resume 20% uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow nuclear facility, and it has since produced 121 pounds of uranium enriched to up to 20%, according to the Reuters.
Details: The centrifuge unveiled Saturday may be able to output enriched nuclear material 50 times quicker than the country’s first centrifuge and is likely a new breach of the 2015 deal, according to AP.
The big picture: The indirect talks in Vienna this week “met expectations” but did not assuage U.S. doubts about Iran’s willingness to negotiate in good faith over the deal, Axios’ Dave Lawler reports.
The talks are expected to continue in a similar format starting the middle of next week.
Iran has said it would not stop enriching uranium at levels that violate the deal until the U.S. lifts its sanctions on the country, while the Biden administration has demanded that Iran must show compliance to the deal before it lifts the sanctions and rejoins.
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