TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iran said on Tuesday it would start enriching uranium to 60% purity, higher than the program ever has before, after an attack on its Natanz nuclear facility, an Iranian nuclear negotiator said Tuesday.
Announcing 60% enrichment, chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi also said Iran would introduce 1,000 more centrifuge machines at Natanz, a nuclear installation targeted on Sunday that Tehran called an act of sabotage.
"From tonight, practical preparations for 60% enrichment will begin in Natanz; 60% uranium is used to make a variety of radiopharmaceuticals,” Iranian nuclear agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency had been informed of the decision, Araqchi said.
The official is in Vienna for talks with the remaining signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal, due to resume on Thursday.
"We believe that this round of negotiations is the time for the U.S. to present a list. I hope that I can go back to Tehran with the list of sanctions that will be lifted," Araqchi said in Vienna. "Otherwise, I don't believe we can continue like this. Otherwise, I believe this would be a waste of time."
Araqchi said informal talks would start Tuesday night, with a formal session beginning Thursday.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei had said in February that Iran would go to 60% enrichment if it was needed.
"We are determined to develop our nuclear capabilities in line with the needs of the country," Ayatollah Khamenei said then. "For this reason, Iran's enrichment will not be limited to 20%, and we will take whatever action is necessary for the country."
Iran previously had said it could use uranium enriched up to 60% for nuclear-powered ships.
Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif issued a warning to Washington.
"Americans should know that neither sanctions nor sabotage actions would provide them with an instrument for talks," Zarif said in Tehran alongside visiting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. "They should know that these actions would only make the situation difficult for them."
Zarif separately renewed his earlier warning to Israel over the sabotage, saying that if Iran determines the occupying regime was behind it, "then Israel will get its response and will see what a stupid thing it has done."
Kayhan urged Iran to "walk out of the Vienna talks, suspend all nuclear commitments, retaliate against Israel and identify and dismantle the domestic infiltration network behind the sabotage."
"Despite evidence that shows the role of the U.S. as main instigator of nuclear sabotage against Iran, unfortunately some statesmen, by purging the U.S. of responsibility, (aid) Washington's crimes against the people of Iran," the paper said in Tuesday's editions.