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Atomic chief: Iran could enrich uranium to 20 percent within four days

“If we want to come out of the nuclear deal and produce, within four days we could start our 20 percent,” Ali Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told the Fars News Agency. “But we already have stockpiles of 20 percent, and the capability.”

The Iran nuclear program’s Arak heavy water reactor. Credit: Nanking 2012 via Wikimedia Commons.
The Iran nuclear program’s Arak heavy water reactor. Credit: Nanking 2012 via Wikimedia Commons.

Iran’s atomic energy chief said on Tuesday that the regime has the capability to enrich uranium up to 20 percent within four days.

“If we want to come out of the nuclear deal and produce, within four days we could start our 20 percent,” Ali Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told the Fars News Agency. “But we already have stockpiles of 20 percent, and the capability.”

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal limits the level to which “it is allowed to enrich uranium to 3.67 percent purity, well below the 20 percent it was reaching before the deal, and the roughly 90 percent suitable for a nuclear weapon,” reported Reuters.

This development comes as Iran launched a satellite-carrying rocket into space, also on Tuesday, amid fears from Israel and the United States.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the launch: “In continued defiance of the international community and U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, the Iranian regime fired off a space launch vehicle [on Jan. 15]. Such vehicles incorporate technologies that are virtually identical and interchangeable with those used in ballistic missiles, including intercontinental ballistic missiles. [Tuesday’s] launch furthers Iran’s ability to eventually build such a weapon.”

“We have been clear that we will not stand for Iran’s flagrant disregard for international norms,” he added. “The United States is working with our allies and partners to counter the entire range of the Islamic Republic’s threats, including its missile program, which threatens Europe and the Middle East.”

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