Iran resumes uranium enrichment at Fordow site

Iran said Thursday it has resumed enriching uranium at its Fordow nuclear facility, further separating itself from a multinational pact it signed in 2015.

Iran said it has further separated itself from a landmark 2015 multination agreement Thursday by injecting uranium gas into 1,044 advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility near Qom city. Photo courtesy of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said in a statement that shortly after midnight Thursday it began injecting uranium gas into hundreds of centrifuges at the underground nuclear facility, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

The 4,409 pounds of gas, known as uranium hexafluoride, were transferred to the facility Wednesday from the Shahid Alimohammadi site in Natanz, some 112 miles south of the Fordow complex near the city of Qom.

The move is the fourth step Iran has taken away from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, under which it agreed to run the 1,044 centrifuges at the Fordow site without uranium gas and to turn the compound into a nuclear physics research lab.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the IAEA, said the injection of uranium gas was being monitored by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, according to state media.

He added that they expect uranium enrichment purity to reach 4.5 percent by Saturday.

The country’s current stockpile is around 1,000 pounds and would increase by roughly 13 pounds a day with the resumption of the Fordow site, Kamalvandi said.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani blamed the United States Wednesday for Iran needing to restart the plant.

“Thanks to U.S. policy and its allies, Fordow will soon be back to full operation,” he said via Twitter.

ByDarryl Coote