Iran is continuing to back away from its nuclear deal with world powers following US withdrawal over a year ago. On Tuesday, President Hassan Rouhani announced that uranium gas would be injected into centrifuges at the underground Fordo facility beginning Wednesday. A rep for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran later said gas would be injected into 1,044 centrifuges with the goal to enrich uranium up to 4.5% concentration of U-235. The 2015 deal limits Iran to low-enriched uranium, with no more than 4% concentration. Iran actually agreed not to carry out enrichment at Fordo until 2031, per the BBC. "Trump's complaint with the Iran accord was that key restrictions expired by 2030, but the net result of the recent announcements is that those restrictions are largely being thrown out now," reports the New York Times.
Iran sees its move as a bargaining chip. It's "reversible" if other signatories—the UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia—allow Iranian oil to be sold on foreign markets and relieve economic pressure from US sanctions imposed after Trump pulled out of the deal, Rouhani said. "Then we will stop feeding gas to the centrifuges." He spoke a day after Iran announced it had doubled the number of advanced centrifuges at its larger Natanz facility, where enriched uranium is already being produced, per the Times. On Tuesday, the US State Department said Iran had "no credible reason to expand its uranium enrichment program, at the Fordo facility or elsewhere, other than a clear attempt at nuclear extortion." Per the Times, "with the steps taken in recent weeks, Iran might be able to produce enough fuel for a single nuclear bomb in under a year."
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