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Iran boosts nuclear enrichment abilities, following US treaty withdrawal

Iran's atomic energy head Ali Akbar Salehi meets with his EU counterpart [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 September, 2018

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Tehran is looking to boost its uranium-enrichment capacity after Washington pulled out in May of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

Iran has completed a facility at the Natanz nuclear plant to build advanced centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium. 

Iran's nuclear chief was quoted on Sunday making the announcement, as Tehran looks to boost its uranium-enrichment capacity after Washington pulled out in May of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. 

The head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, had previously said in June that the facility would be built within a month. 

Salehi's June statement came days after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei said he ordered scientists to increase Iran's enrichment capacity if the nuclear deal collapsed. 

Salehi said Iran would build nuclear reactors for ships but stay within limits set by the 2015 deal. He said the goal was "advancing well but would take 10 to 15 years to complete".

"A third step [in reaction to the US withdrawal] might be to suspend some of the limitations within the nuclear agreement, for example on the volume and level of enrichment," Salehi said, according to IRNA.

"And the final scenario can be a complete exit from the nuclear accord, which I hope will never happen, with the help of [remaining signatories], because everyone would suffer," Salahi added. 

Iran has said it hopes to stay with the 2015 nuclear deal, but would study a planned European package of economic measures that could help offset US sanctions.

Washington reimposed the first set of sanctions on Iran in August. A second, more severe set, targeting Iran's oil sector will come into force on 4 November. 

Iran's economy has been battered in recent months. Prices are rising and shortages are widespread, while Iran's currency has lost around 70 percent of its value against the dollar compared to a year ago. 

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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