By News Agencies and Damian Pachter, Israel Hayom—
Iran began enriching uranium up to 60% purity Friday, its highest level ever, after an attack targeted its Natanz nuclear site, Parliament Speaker Mohamed Bagher Qalibaf told state TV.
The comment by Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, quoted by state television, did not elaborate on the amount Iran planned to enrich. However, it is likely to raise tensions even as Iran negotiates with world powers in Vienna over a way to allow the U.S. back into the agreement and lift the crushing economic sanctions it faces.
The announcement also marks a significant escalation after the sabotage that damaged centrifuges, an attack this past weekend suspected of having been carried out by Israel. While Israel has yet to claim it, the country is widely suspected of having carried out the still-unexplained sabotage at Natanz, Iran’s main enrichment site.
“The will of the Iranian nation is a miracle-maker and it will defuse any conspiracy,” state television quoted Qalibaf as saying. He said the enrichment began just after midnight Friday.
The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, the country’s civilian nuclear arm, later acknowledged the move to 60%, according to state TV. Ali Akbar Salehi said more details would be forthcoming and declined to further elaborate.
It wasn’t clear why the first announcement came from Qalibaf, a hard-line former leader in the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard already named as a potential presidential candidate in Iran’s upcoming June election. Continue Reading…