Iran is intensifying uranium enrichment and seizing a tanker as tensions mount with the United States

Semi-official news agencies and Maritime Security Risk Management company Dryad Global said Iran also seized a chemical tanker flying the South Korean flag in the Persian Gulf on Monday.

Iran is currently enriching its stockpile of uranium up to about 4.5%, which is higher than the 3.67% ceiling imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal, but well below the weapons-grade 90%. Iran has consistently denied its intention to assemble nuclear weapons.

Frederick Dahl, a spokesman for the agency, told CNN on Friday that his country had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of its intention to continue enriching uranium at 20%.

This intensification represents a challenge to the US President-elect, Joe Biden, Who vowed to revive Charter when he takes office. President Donald Trump She withdrew from the joint agreement in 2018Instead, re-impose sanctions on the Iranian regime.

Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said today, Monday, that the country began the enrichment process “two hours ago” at the Fordo site, noting that the first uranium enriched with UF6 will be produced within a few hours, according to the Islamic Republic of Iran News Agency.

The agency added, quoting Rabiei, that all necessary measures have been taken, such as informing the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Last month , The Iranian parliament passed a bill This would increase uranium enrichment to pre-2015 levels and prevent nuclear inspections if sanctions are not lifted, in the wake of the assassination of a senior nuclear scientist.

“The law obliges the Iranian Atomic Energy Authority to produce at least 120 kilograms of uranium enriched by 20% annually and store it inside the country,” Mehr News Agency reported.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani He said in January 2020 Iran was enriching uranium more than it had been before the agreement was signed, and in March, the United Nations found that the country had nearly that It tripled its stock in a matter of months.

Rouhani, whose government signed the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, opposed the bill last month, arguing it would undermine diplomacy.

The Iranian government has repeatedly called on the United States to restore the deal that Trump withdrew from in 2018.

Conveyor tuning

Meanwhile, news agencies and Dryad Global reported on Monday that Iran had seized a chemical tanker bearing the South Korean flag.

Dryad Global said, “Reports indicate that the chemical tanker Hankook Kimi (IMO: 9232369) flying the flag of South Korea was most likely detained by Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz on its arrival in Fujairah.”

It added that 23 crew members were on board.

UK Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), which is part of the British Royal Navy, said that “an interaction” occurred “within the Strait of Hormuz between a merchant ship and the Iranian authorities, which prompted the ship to make a” change of course in Iranian territory. Water. “

The semi-official Tasnim News Agency said Iran said the vessel had been detained due to “environmental and chemical pollution in the Persian Gulf.” According to Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency, the ship was seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

CNN has contacted the South Korean government for comment.

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