Special Report-Iran to Ramp Up Uranium Enrichment

Iran enacted a law to immediately ramp up its uranium enrichment levels closer to the weapons-grade fuel in response to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the country’s top nuclear physicist.

The law also envisions the expulsion of international inspectors if American sanctions are not lifted by early February, putting pressure on the newly elected President Joe Biden.

Iranian officials previously wowed to avenge Fakhrizadeh’s assassination; but it is still not clear if this move is the full extent of it or there is more retaliation to come.

Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency is set to resume enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent immediately with the law. This will return the country’s program to the maximum level that existed before the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Uranium enriched to that level gives Iran the ability to convert its stockpile to bomb-grade levels in six months. Trump administration may see the start of the process as a provocation in its last days.

The new law sets a February deadline for oil and banking sanctions against Iran to be lifted before inspectors are barred, a potential crisis for the early days of the Biden administration. The inspections conducted by the International Atomic Energy Agency have been the main source of information about Iran’s program.

The timing seems intended to press President-elect Biden to re-enter the nuclear deal with Iran immediately after inauguration. Mr. Biden previously stated that he would be willing if Iran respected the limitations of the 2015 deal.

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