In escalation, Iran enriches uranium to 20% with new centrifuges at fortified site

In a report to member states, Director General Rafael Grossi described a system of “modified sub-headers,” which he said allowed Iran to inject gas enriched up to 5% purity into a cascade of 166 IR-6 centrifuges for the purpose of producing uranium enriched up to 20% purity.

Iran did not comment on the latest IAEA finding.

Nuclear talks have been at a standstill for months. The U.S. special envoy for Iran, Robert Malley, described the latest round of negotiations in Qatar as “more than a little bit of a wasted occasion.”

The IAEA reported last month that Iran has 43 kilograms of uranium enriched to 60% purity — a short step to 90%. Nonproliferation experts warn that’s enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon if Iran chose to pursue it.

However, Iran still would need to design a bomb and a delivery system for it, likely a monthslong project.

Tehran’s escalating nuclear work has raised alarm with transparency rapidly diminishing. Last month Iran shut off more than two dozen IAEA monitoring cameras from various nuclear-related sites across the country.

Former President Donald Trump abandoned the nuclear deal in 2018 and re-imposed crushing sanctions on Tehran, setting off a series of tense incidents across the wider Mideast. Iran responded by massively increasing its nuclear work, growing its stockpile of highly enriched uranium and spinning advanced centrifuges banned by the accord.

Iran’s adversary Israel has long opposed the nuclear accord, saying it delayed rather ended Iran’s nuclear progress and arguing that sanctions relief empowered Tehran’s proxy militias across the region.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called on the U.N. to re-impose multilateral sanctions on Iran — a bid that was met with stiff opposition when pushed by the Trump administration.

“The response of the international community must be decisive: to return to the U.N. Security Council and activate the sanctions mechanism at full force,” Lapid, who is serving as caretaker leader, told his Cabinet. “Israel, for its part, maintains full freedom to act, diplomatically and operationally, in this fight against Iran’s nuclear program.”

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