Iran has started obtaining 20-percent enriched uranium, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) announced on Tuesday.
The developments followed injecting uranium gas in Iran's Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant on Monday as part of Iran's Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions which was approved by the parliament in December 2020, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesman for the AEOI was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
"Obtaining 20-percent enrichment (uranium) is underway in two cascades" in Fordow, Kamalvandi said, adding that the process of production "took more than 24 hours, but with new technologies this time has now been reduced to 12 hours."
These measures, he noted, were taken after informing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and submitting a technical questionnaire to it, as established by Iran's safeguard commitments.
Kamalvandi also said this action was taken in order to protect the rights of the Iranian people.
"We have the ability to enrich uranium above 20 percent (purity) easily and we are considering it," he pointed out.
Besides, the head of the AEOI, Ali Akbar Salehi, said Tuesday that Iran will produce up to nine kg of enriched uranium with the purity of 20 percent per month.
"At present, we produce 17 to 20 grams of 20-percent (enriched) uranium every hour. We have a production capacity of eight to nine kg per month to reach the 120 kg limit provided by law," Salehi said, according to IRNA.
"Extensive activities are underway in the AEOI, including the construction of two nuclear power plants in Bushehr (in south of Iran). These are the two largest industrial projects in the country with a cost of about 10 billion U.S. dollars," Salehi was quoted as saying.
"Besides, until four years ago we produced an average of four to five tonnes of yellow cake (annually) ... and this year it will be increased to 35 to 40 tonnes," he noted.
"Currently, two cascades of IR2M centrifuges, about 320 centrifuges, are operating, and according to the law, we have to install 1,000 more IR2M centrifuges within the next two or three months," Salehi added.
In the meantime, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran's decision to restart enriching uranium to a purity level of 20 percent could be rolled back if all parties to the JCPOA honor the nuclear deal in full.
"We resumed 20 percent enrichment, as legislated by our parliament. IAEA has been duly notified," Zarif tweeted.
"Our remedial action conforms fully with Para 36 of JCPOA, after years of non-compliance by several other JCPOA participants," he said.
"Our measures are fully reversible upon full compliance by all," he added.
Iran and the the P5+1 group, namely Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States plus Germany, signed the landmark JCPOA in 2015 which was aimed at restricting Iran's nuclear program in return for the ease of Western and international sanctions against the country.
But Donald Trump, incumbent president of the United States, pulled Washington out of the deal in May 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran. In response, Iran has gradually dropped some of its JCPOA commitments since May 2019.