Home » Iran ramps up uranium enrichment and seizes South Korean-flagged tanker as tensions rise with US

Iran ramps up uranium enrichment and seizes South Korean-flagged tanker as tensions rise with US

by newsking24

Iran additionally seized a South Korean-flagged chemical tanker on Monday, in line with semi-official Iranian information businesses, for “creating environmental and chemical pollution in the Persian Gulf.”

An Iranian authorities spokesman mentioned Monday that consultants had restarted uranium enrichment towards a 20% goal at its underground Fordow nuclear facility, in line with semi-official information company Mehr and state information company IRNA.

Iran at present enriches its uranium stockpile as much as round 4.5%, which is above the three.67% cap imposed by the 2015 pact with world powers, however far in need of the 90% that’s thought-about weapons-grade. Iran has regularly denied it intends to assemble nuclear weapons.

The nation had knowledgeable the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of its intent to counterpoint uranium at 20%, IAEA spokesman Fredrik Dahl informed CNN on Friday. On Monday morning, authorities spokesman Ali Rabiei mentioned it began the enrichment course of a “couple of hours ago” within the Fordow website, noting that the primary UF6 enriched uranium could be produced in a number of hours, IRNA mentioned.

The US State Department condemned each the tanker seizure and Iran’s resumption of uranium enrichment, with a spokesperson noting that “Iran’s enrichment program was originally developed in secret, including at Fordow, and Iran retained a vast archive of records from its past nuclear weapons program, along with many of the key personnel who led that program.”

“The United States and the rest of the international community will assess Iran’s actions in light of this provocative history,” the spokesperson mentioned.

A problem from Iran

The growth poses a problem for US President-elect Joe Biden, who has pledged to reinstate the deal after he takes workplace on January 20. President Trump walked away from the settlement in 2018, as a substitute restarting sanctions on the Iranian regime.
The ramp-up got here after Iran’s parliament handed a regulation final month to spice up uranium enrichment to pre-2015 ranges and block nuclear inspections if sanctions will not be lifted. The invoice was permitted within the wake of the assassination of Iran’s chief nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November.

“The law obliges the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to produce at least 120 kg of 20% enriched uranium annually and store it inside the country,” the Mehr information company reported.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani mentioned in January 2020 that Iran was enriching extra uranium than earlier than the deal was signed, and in March the United Nations discovered that the nation had practically tripled its stockpile in a matter of months.
Trump directed Pentagon to reverse decision and keep aircraft carrier in Middle East amid Iran tensions

Rouhani, whose authorities signed the 2015 cope with the US and different world powers, opposed final month’s invoice, arguing that it will undermine diplomacy.

Iran’s authorities has repeatedly known as on the US to revive the settlement that Trump withdrew from in 2018.

Biden’s nationwide safety adviser Jake Sullivan informed CNN on Sunday that the incoming US administration would reenter the pact if Iran got here again into compliance with it.

Sullivan additionally mentioned the Biden administration would then search a “follow-on negotiation” over Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities.

“Our view is that ballistic missiles, and Iran’s ballistic missile program, has to be on the table as part of that follow-on negotiation,” Sullivan mentioned, including the Biden administration would search to convey a few of Iran’s regional companions to the desk.

Rouhani mentioned final month that Iran’s missile program was non-negotiable, Reuters reported.

Tanker seized

In this photo released Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, by Tasnim News Agency, a seized South Korean-flagged tanker is escorted by Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats on the Persian Gulf. In this photo released Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, by Tasnim News Agency, a seized South Korean-flagged tanker is escorted by Iranian Revolutionary Guard boats on the Persian Gulf.

Meanwhile Monday, information businesses and the Dryad Global agency reported that Iran had seized a chemical tanker bearing the South Korean flag.

“Reporting indicates that the South Korean flagged Chemical Tanker HANKUK CHEMI (IMO:9232369) has likely been detained by Iranian forces in the Straits of Hormuz while inbound to Fujairah,” Dryad Global mentioned.

South Korea despatched its Cheonghae anti-piracy unit to the Strait of Hormuz in response, its Ministry of Defense mentioned, including that there have been 20 crew on board together with 5 South Koreans.

A “vessel that was sailing near Oman sea of the Hormuz waters on January 4 afternoon is moving to the Iranian waters following Iranian authorities’ request,” the ministry mentioned in an announcement.

The ministry and the South Korean Embassy have requested Iranian authorities to substantiate the security of the crew and to launch the vessel as quickly as attainable.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO), which is a part of Britain’s Royal Navy, mentioned an “interaction occurred” throughout the Strait of Hormuz between a service provider vessel and Iranian authorities, pushing the vessel to make “an alteration of course into Iranian territorial waters.”

Iran mentioned the vessel was seized for “creating environmental and chemical pollution in the Persian Gulf,” semi-official information company Tasnim mentioned. The vessel has been seized by the navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, in line with the Mehr information company.

CNN has reached out to the South Korean authorities for a remark.

US to maintain plane service within the area

Acting US Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller ordered the USS Nimitz to return to the Middle East following a White House assembly Sunday, a senior protection official informed CNN.

The determination reversed Miller’s order final week to ship the plane service out of the area and residential, partially, to ship a de-escalation sign to Iran amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran.

One protection official says Miller’s thought of de-escalation had not been adopted as a proper, permitted coverage. It took high commanders abruptly, a number of protection sources mentioned. US Central Command needed the service to remain within the area due to the coverage of Iran deterrence.

The White House and NSC didn’t instantly reply to CNN’s request for touch upon Monday.

On Sunday, Miller introduced that the USS Nimitz would stay in place because of purported Iranian threats “against President Trump and other US government officials.” Miller mentioned in an announcement that he had “ordered the USS Nimitz to halt its routine redeployment.” The service will now “remain on station in the US Central Command area of operations,” Miller added.

“No one should doubt the resolve of the United States of America,” he mentioned.

Ramin Mostaghim reported from Tehran, whereas Rob Picheta wrote from London. CNN’s Jim Sciutto, Barbara Starr and Sharif Paget contributed reporting.

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