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Iran ready to ramp up nuclear enrichment at underground plant: IAEA

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Iran is prepared to ramp up its uranium enrichment capabilities as the U.S. continues nuclear deal negotiations in Vienna, according to a United Nations watchdog.

A report from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Monday found that Iran is preparing to install IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Fordow facility, according to Reuters. The machines can allow Iran to enrich uranium to 20% purity and potentially more.

Iran was only allowed to install IR-1 centrifuges and enrich uranium to just under 4% under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran is also enriching uranium to as much as 60% purity at another facility, nearing the 90% purity required for nuclear weapons.

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FILE - This file photo released Nov. 5, 2019, by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, shows centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP, File)

FILE – This file photo released Nov. 5, 2019, by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, shows centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility in central Iran. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP, File)

Experts say the development is a warning sign for President Joe Biden’s administration that Iran is looking to secure concessions at the Vienne negotiations.

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“Iran’s nuclear escalation strategy continues to be defined by two types of acts: growing the scale and scope of the program through facts on the ground while reducing IAEA monitoring and verification capabilities,” Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies who focuses on Iranian security, told Fox News Digital. “This combination of less eyes and more worries is designed to spook Washington into further concessions in Vienna.”

“The Biden administration needs to step up sanctions enforcement, particularly against targets that Treasury has been exposing since May: those involved in oil and petrochemical sales,” Taleblu continued. “The regime’s illicit oil and petrochemical sales literally underwrite its regional and nuclear escalation.”

The IAEA report comes days before Biden is scheduled to travel to Saudi Arabia, where he is expected to negotiate to lower gas prices and throw weight behind negotiations surrounding an Iran nuclear deal.

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Iran has abandoned many of the commitments it made in the 2015 nuclear deal after the U.S. withdrew from it under former President Donald Trump. The Biden administration has made little progress toward another deal.



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