Iran begins 20% uranium enrichment, captures South Korean ship

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Iran began enriching uranium on Monday, as it has invisible levels following a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, and seized a South Korean flag-waving tanker near the crucial Strait Hormuz, which is a bay for the West. There is a challenging challenge. Raising more moderate stress.

Both decisions were aimed at increasing Tehran’s advantage in the days of President Donald Trump’s inauguration, which began in 2018 with a series of unilateral withdrawals from the nuclear deal.

The growing breeding ground in its underground Fordo facility puts Tehran as technically as 90% of the weapons-grade level, while also pushing President-elect Joe Biden to negotiate quickly. Iran’s Mt.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appears to be acknowledging Tehran’s interest in taking advantage of the situation in a tweet on its nuclear enrichment.

“Our steps are completely reversible upon full compliance by all,” he wrote.

At Fordo, Iranian nuclear scientists, under the supervision of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, loaded a centrifuge that would cut enriched uranium below 130 kilograms (285 pounds) to 20%, said Iran’s permanent representative to the UN nuclear agency. .

The IAEA later described the Fordo setup as three sets of two interconnected cascades, including 1,044 IR-1 centrifuges – Iran’s first pay-per-centrifuge. Cascade is a group of centrifuges working together to enrich uranium more quickly.

Iranian state television quoted government spokesman Ali Rabia as saying that President Hassan Rouhani had ordered production to begin. Parliament came after the bill was passed, later recognized by constitutional oversight, aimed at boosting prosperity to pressure Europe to ease sanctions.

The U.S. State Department criticized Iran’s move as a “clear attempt to escalate its nuclear extortion campaign.”

“The United States and the rest of the international community will assess Iran’s actions,” the State Department said. “We are confident that the IAEA will monitor and report on new Iranian nuclear activities.”

Iran informed the IAEA last week of its plans to increase the upgrade by 20%.

Israel’s decision to start enriching 20% ​​of its purity a decade ago led to a strike targeting its nuclear facilities.

The resumption of 20% breeding could see that Brinksmanship return. Already, in a November attack that Tehran blamed on Israel, it killed an Iranian scientist who founded the country’s military nuclear program two decades ago.

Criticizing Iran’s decision to enrich itself, Israel, which has its own undeclared nuclear weapons program, said “there is no way to explain it other than the stability of realizing its goal of developing a military nuclear program.”

He added, “Israel will not allow Iran to build a nuclear weapon.”

Tehran has long maintained that its nuclear program is peaceful. The US State Department says that by the end of last year, it had “continued to assess whether Iran is currently engaged in key activities related to the development and development of nuclear weapons.” U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA Earlier reports from the U.S. have mirrored this, though experts warn that Iran currently has enough enriched uranium for at least two nuclear weapons if it chooses to pursue it.

Meanwhile, Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards captured MT Hankuk Chemi, later releasing photos showing his vessels with the tanker. Satellite data from showed the tanker from the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas on Monday.

The ship was heading to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates from a petrochemicals facility in Jubail, Saudi Arabia. According to data-analysis firm Refinitive, the ship is carrying a chemical vessel, including methanol.

Iran accused it of capturing the ship by polluting the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the gulf through which 20% of the world’s oil passes.

The U.S. State Department called for the immediate release of the tanker, accusing Iran of threatening “navigational rights and freedoms” in the Persian Gulf in order to “exclude the international community from the pressure of sanctions.”

After hours of business on Monday, the listed owner of the ship, Busan, DM Shipping Co. of South Korea. Ltd. No calls have not been answered. South Korea’s Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed company official as saying that the ship’s water had been polluted by denying the Iranian claim.

“Why do we have to go and take the exam and they don’t get any answers,” the captain was quoted as saying.

In the months leading up to the Trump administration tightening sanctions on the country’s oil exports, Iran has demanded increased pressure on South Korea to unlock fixed assets derived from oil sales of oil 7 billion. The head of Iran’s central bank recently announced that the country is trying to use funds to buy a convivirus vaccine to buy a convivirus vaccine at a South Korean bank, an international program designed to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to participating countries.

South Korea’s foreign ministry said in a statement that its crew was safe. According to the guards, the crew included sailors from Indonesia, Myanmar, South Korea and Vietnam. South Korea’s defense ministry said it was also sending its piracy unit near the Strait of Hormuz, with about 300 troops to destroy the 4,400-ton-square.

CMDR. Rebecca Rebrich, a spokeswoman for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said authorities were monitoring the situation. Last year, Iran similarly seized a British national oil tanker and held it for months after capturing one of its tankers from Gibraltar.

The bomber struck shortly after noon in front of a U.S. military base. The drone strike coincides with the anniversary of the assassination of General Qasim Soleimani. Iran responded by launching ballistic missiles at US bases in Iraq, injuring dozens of US troops. Tehran also accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet that night, killing all 176 people on board.

As the anniversary approached and fears of a possible Iranian retaliation grew, the U.S. dispatched B-52 bombers to the area and ordered a nuclear-powered submarine to be sent to the Persian Gulf.

Working U.S. Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said late Sunday night that he had changed his mind about sending the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz home from the Middle East and would instead keep the ship on duty. He called on Trump and the U.S. Without elaborating on the Iranian threats against other government officials, re-en cited employment.

Last week, sailors discovered a limpet mine parked on a tanker in the Persian Gulf near Iraq near the Iranian border as it prepared to transfer fuel to another tanker owned by a company trading on the New York Stock Exchange. No one has claimed responsibility for the mining, although it follows a similar series of attacks near the Strait of Hormuz, which the Navy blamed on Iran in 2019. Tehra denied involvement.


Associated Press writers Tia Goldenberg in Tel Aviv, Israel, Hyung-Jin Kim in Seoul and Robert Burns and Matthew Lee in Washington contributed.