Iran’s capacity to enrich uranium has more than doubled, the country’s nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami told lawmakers in Tehran on Saturday.
Eslami referred to a parliament bill passed in December 2020 that required the government to increase high-level enrichment of uranium, demanding that the United States lift all sanctions. Praising the legislation, Eslami said that the decision made possible an unprecedented enrichment capacity.
In November 2020, Iran’s parliament with a hardliner majority - many officers of the Revolutionary Guard - initiated the legislation and passed it in early December, right after newly elected US president Joe Biden signaled his readiness to return the United States to the Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran known as the JCPOA.
His predecessor Donald Trump had abandoned the accord in 2018 calling it a “bad deal” and imposing sanctions on Iran.
In early 2021, the Islamic Republic began enriching uranium to 20-percent and shortly after to 60-percent, a short step from acquiring highly enriched fissile material for a nuclear bomb. According to estimates, it now has enough enriched uranium for one atomic bomb.
Eslami claimed that Iran’s nuclear program has led to production of energy and has saved “a lot of money” and reduced fossil fuel consumption.
His claims, however, are refuted by the fact that only a small fraction of Iran’s electricity is produced by its only reactor at Bushehr, while highly enriched uranium is not needed for nuclear power plants, which is not the subject of the dispute with the West.