by Elad Benari
US State Department condemns Iran's expansion of uranium enrichment activities.
A spokesperson for the US State Department on Tuesday condemned Iran’s expansion of uranium enrichment activities, saying it is “a big step in the wrong direction”.
“We fully support the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in conducting its independent verification role in Iran and look to the IAEA to report on any developments,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
The comments follow Iran’s announcement earlier on Tuesday that it would enrich uranium to 5% at the Fordow nuclear facility, in a further violation of the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with world powers.
"Tomorrow we will enrich uranium to five percent at Fordow ... Right now we have enough 20% enriched uranium but we can produce it if needed," said the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran head, Ali Akbar Salehi.
On Monday, Salehi announced that Iran is building a prototype centrifuge that is 50 times faster than those allowed under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed in 2015.
His announcement on Tuesday came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared that Iran would move forward quickly with gas injection at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment plant outside of the city of Qom, beginning Wednesday. A total of 1,044 centrifuges will be injected with uranium gas.
US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 deal last May. Since that time, his administration has ramped up the sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
In response to the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal and its imposition of sanctions, Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal.
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