Iran begins 20% uranium enrichment, captures tanker in Strait

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Iran on Monday began enriching uranium to 20% in underground facilities and seized a South Korean flagged oil tanker in the crucial Strait of Hormuz, raising tensions between Tehran and the Middle East further west.

The announcement of prosperity in Fordo came at a time when Tehran had captured MT Hankook Chemi. Iran later acknowledged the seizure, accusing it of being “oil pollution.” Hours earlier, however, Tehran had said that the South Korean diplomat was to travel there for talks on its multibillion-dollar assets, which are now stationed in Seoul.

The twin incidents come amid heightened tensions between Iran and the United States in the weak days of President Donald Trump’s tenure, with the US leader unilaterally withdrawing from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers and shutting down growing months between the two countries. .

Iranian government television quoted spokesman Ali Rabie as saying that President Hassan Rouhani had ordered the move at the Fordo facility.

Israel’s strike targeted its nuclear facilities with a decision to start enriching Iran by 20% a decade ago, a tension that only led to a halt in the 2015 nuclear deal. Brinkmanship may look back on a 20% enrichment resumption because that level of refinement is just a technical step from a 90% weapons-grade level.

Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from world powers in 2018 over Iran’s nuclear deal. Since then there has been a series of increases between the two countries.

Iran’s decision came after its parliament passed a bill, later recognized by constitutional oversight, aimed at boosting prosperity to pressure Europe to ease sanctions. He works under pressure before the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden, who said he was ready to re-enter the nuclear deal.

Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency last week that it planned to take the step. The IAEA said Monday that “agency observers are monitoring activities at Fordo” and that its director general, Rafael Mariano Gracie, plans to issue a report to UN member states in the coming days.

Meanwhile, satellite data from showed MT Hankook Chemi near Port Abbas on Monday afternoon, with no explanation for the change in the ship’s route. He was on his way to Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates from Jubail in Saudi Arabia. According to data-analysis firm Refinitive, the ship was carrying an unknown chemical shipment.

DM Shipping Co. of Busan, South Korea, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and listed owner of the ship. Ltd. No response was received immediately after business hours on Monday to call. Iran did not accept the ship’s location.

The United Kingdom acknowledges the “interaction” between the Marines’ trade rations, the exchange of information overseen by the British Royal Navy in the region, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz, a merchant ship, and Iranian officials. All the oil in the world goes through.

As a result, the UKMTO said the merchant ship was “altering” Iran’s territorial waters to the north.

CMDR. Rebecca Rebrich, a spokeswoman for the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, said authorities there were monitoring the situation.

A British security company, Embrae, described the incident as a clear seizure. Another maritime security company, Dryad Global, said the ship had a crew of 23 sailors from Indonesia and Myanmar.

Iran’s announcement coincides with the anniversary of the assassination of General Qasim Soleimani, a revolutionary defender of the US drone strike in Baghdad last year. Iran retaliated by launching a ballistic missile strike after the attack, in which dozens of U.S. troops were wounded in Iraq. Tehran also accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet that night, killing all 176 people on board.

As the anniversary approaches, the U.S. has sent flying B-52 bombers into the area and sent nuclear-powered submarines into the Persian Gulf.

On Thursday, sailors discovered a limpet mine 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 traded 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 refused to get involved.

In November, an Iranian scientist who founded the country’s military nuclear program two decades ago was killed in an attack blamed on Tehran.


Hyung-Jin Kim, an Associated Press writer in Seoul, contributed to this report.