An Iranian government spokesman says Tehran has begun enriching uranium up to 20% at an underground facility.
The state-run IRNA news agency on Monday quoted Ali Rabiei saying President Hassan Rouhani had given the order for the move at the Fordo facility.
Enrichment at 20% is a short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.
In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks during his press conference in Tehran, Iran, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
Iran’s decision to begin enriching to 20% a decade ago nearly brought an Israeli strike targeting its nuclear facilities, tensions that only abated with the 2015 atomic deal. A resumption of 20% enrichment could see that brinksmanship return.
The move comes after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. unilaterally from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018. In the time since, there have been a series of escalating incidents between the two countries.