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Despite Upcoming Negotiations, Iran Keeps Expanding Enriched Uranium Stockpile


Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (file photo)

Iran says it has increased its stockpile of 60 percent enriched uranium to 25 kilograms, an almost fourfold increase from the level reported in June, as Tehran prepares for negotiations later this month with world powers to preserve a 2015 deal aimed at curbing its nuclear program.

"So far we have produced 25 kilograms of 60 percent uranium, which, except for countries with nuclear weapons, no other country is able to produce," Iranian media quoted Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as saying on November 5.

Kamalvandi added that Iran's stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium has reached over 210 kilograms, well beyond the 120-kilogram target set by parliament.

The announcement potentially complicates efforts to revive the landmark 2015 deal between Iran and world powers. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement in 2018, but Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia have tried to preserve the accord.

President Joe Biden has said he is willing to rejoin the pact if Iran returns to full compliance, but indirect negotiations between Tehran and world powers that started in April in Vienna were put on hold in June after the Islamic republic elected hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi as president.

The nuclear agreement, which offered curbs on international sanctions in exchange for Iran's limiting its nuclear program, caps the purity to which Tehran can refine uranium at 3.67 percent -- enough for civilian nuclear energy and far below the 90 percent purity needed for an atomic weapon.

Iran has denied seeking nuclear weapons and said its breaches are reversible if Washington lifts sanctions and rejoins the agreement.

Western officials and analysts believe Tehran's escalation of enrichment is aimed at gaining leverage during the negotiations that are due to resume on November 29 in Vienna.

Biden and European leaders criticized Tehran last week for continuing to enrich uranium to a higher levels, calling the move provocative.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and dpa
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