Iran vows to increase uranium enrichment after nuclear facility explosion

TEHRAN, Iran (NBC) – Iran announced Tuesday it will begin enriching uranium at a higher purity percentage after an attack on one of its nuclear facilities over the weekend.

Tehran will enrich uranium at 60 percent purity, higher than before and still short of weapons-grade but an escalation after an explosion at its Natanz nuclear facility.

Iran blames Israel for the incident. Israel has not denied sabotaging the plant and has vowed to never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Iran’s nuclear negotiator and deputy foreign minister warned that the Natanz attack could jeopardize negotiations over the nuclear accord. He also boasted that Iran will replace damaged centrifuges with a thousand better ones.

Iran had been enriching uranium at 20 percent, but earlier this year Iran’s supreme leader threatened to increase its uranium enrichment percentage.

Iran previously had said it could use uranium enriched up to 60 percent for nuclear-powered ships.

The Islamic republic currently has no such ships in its navy.

Tuesday, the deputy foreign minister said the upgrade is for medical purposes.

Uranium must be enriched to a level of 90 percent before it can become weapons-grade.

The announcement comes as Russia’s foreign minister visited Tehran.

Details remain unclear about what actually happened early Sunday at Natanz.

 

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