Iran has announced it will take the next step in its stage-by-stage move away from its landmark nuclear deal by injecting gas into 1,044 centrifuges at its Fordow fuel enrichment plant.
In a televised statement, Iranian President Hassab Rouhani said the 1,044 machines at the plant will be injected with the uranium gas starting on Wednesday.
“Gas will be injected into centrifuges at Fordow as part of part of our fourth step to reduce our nuclear commitments to the deal,” Rouhani said in the speech.
The Iranian president added the step was reversible and did not specifically say if the injection of gas would be used to speed the enrichment of uranium.
However, Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, later said Iran had informed the IAEA over “the start of injecting UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) into centrifuges at Fordow”.
The move further complicates the chances of saving the nuclear deal, which European powers have called on Iran to respect.
UK Foreign Minister Dominic Raab denounced Tehran’s move on Tuesday as a threat to Britain’s national security.
Under the nuclear deal signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, these centrifuges are supposed to spin without gas injection.
Tehran has gradually reduced commitments made under the accord – including uranium stockpile and enrichment limits – since being hit with renewed US sanctions last year.