Iran to start injecting uranium gas into centrifuges
5 November 2019, 14:11 | Updated: 5 November 2019, 15:05
Iran is to start injecting uranium gas into more than 1,044 centrifuges as it moves away from a landmark nuclear deal agreed in 2015.
The country's president, Hassan Rouhani, said it would take place at its underground Fordow centre as "part of our fourth step to reduce our nuclear commitments to the deal."
Uranium gas injection can allow enriched uranium to be produced - currently banned at the site under the pact.
Highly enriched uranium can be used to make nuclear weapons.
President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the Obama-brokered deal in May 2018 and reimposed tough sanctions on Iran's economy.
Mr Rouhani - speaking live on national TV - gave Britain, France and Germany another two months to try to salvage the agreement by protecting Iran from the sanctions.
"We can't unilaterally accept that we completely fulfil our commitments [to the deal] and they don't follow up on their commitments," Mr Rouhani said in his TV statement.
He added: "All these measures are reversible if other parties fulfil their commitments... We should be able to sell our oil and to transfer its money into the country."
Fordow is northeast of the city of Qom and heavily fortified.
It will once again become an atomic site, rather than the research facility stipulated under the deal, when the gas begins to be injected on Wednesday.
Mr Rouhani's announcement came after the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation said on Monday that it had doubled the number of advanced IR-6 centrifuges in the country to 60.
A centrifuge is a piece of equipment that enriches uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas.
An IR-6 centrifuge can produce enriched uranium 10 times quicker than the IR-1 centrifuges at Fordow, according to Iranian officials.
They also say they are working on an IR-9, said to be 50 times faster than the IR-1.
Iran is already breaking the 2015 deal by enriching uranium up to 4.5%, in violation of a 3.67% limit.
Such levels can help power the country's only nuclear plant, but are way short of the 90% needed to produce weapons.
Before the deal - signed by the US, France, Germany, the UK, Russia and China - Iran's enrichment had reached 20%.
Iran now has more than 500kg of low-enriched uranium, according to its atomic energy chief Ali Akhbar Salehi. The agreement had capped it at 300kg.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, has yet to comment.
(c) Sky News 2019: Iran to start injecting uranium gas into centrifuges