Iran has increased production of low-enriched uranium at a time of tensions with the United States over Iran’s nuclear deal with western powers.
Two semi-official Iranian news agencies reported Monday that Iran now produces four times as much low-enriched uranium as before. Enriched uranium can be used to produce nuclear power. It also can be used to make nuclear weapons.
The news agency reports appeared just after U.S. President Donald Trump warned Iran it would face its “official end” if it ever threatened America again.
His warning comes after days of increased tensions between the two sides. The tensions were fueled by the Trump administration’s deployment of bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. U.S. officials have defended the move, saying it was to answer threats from Iran.
Administration officials plan to inform U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday about the threat they say that Iran poses to the country and U.S. interests.
Earlier this month, officials of the United Arab Emirates claimed that four oil transport ships were sabotaged. Yemeni rebels allied with Iran used drone aircraft to launch an attack on an oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia. And U.S. diplomats said airline companies could be mistakenly attacked by Iran, an idea Iran has dismissed.
Timeline of Iran’s nuclear program
The tensions between Iran and the United States come one year after Trump decided the U.S. would withdraw from a nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
Both the United States and Iran say they do not want war. Yet many observers worry any mistake by either side could lead to events out of their control.
Both the semi-official Fars and Tasnim news agencies reported on the increased production of enriched uranium. They said the information came from a spokesman for Iran’s nuclear agency. The official said Iran “in weeks” would reach the 300-kilogram limit set by the nuclear deal. He added that the government had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency about its move.
Trump’s comment came just hours after a Katyusha rocket fell in Baghdad’s Green Zone, about 1.5 kilometers from the U.S. Embassy. No injuries were reported.
An Iraqi military official told the Associated Press that the rocket was fired from East Baghdad. That area is home to many Iran-supported militias.
Trump wrote on Twitter, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Trump was making “genocidal taunts. He ended his tweet with “Try respect – it works!”
Trump ordered the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran and strengthened sanctions against Iran. The U.S. government also has warned of actions against other nations if they import Iranian oil.
Iran just announced it was backing away from the nuclear deal in which Iran agreed to limit its enrichment of uranium if sanctions were removed. Iran has given European countries 60 days to come up with a new deal or it will begin enriching uranium at a higher level.
Iran has always said it does not seek nuclear weapons. But Western nations have questioned this claim.
Appearing on Fox News television on Sunday, Trump called the 2015 nuclear deal a “horror show.”
“I just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons and they can’t be threatening us,” he said.
Yet the nuclear deal had prevented Iran from getting enough highly-enriched uranium for a bomb. United Nations inspectors repeatedly said that Iran was honoring the deal.
On Sunday, the U.S. Navy announced it would begin security patrols in international waters along with members of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The council includes many Gulf States.
VOANews.com and The Associated Press reported this story. Susan Shand adapted the report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
Words In This Story
pose – v. to offer for consideration; to come to attention as
taunt – v. to say insulting things to someone to make him angry
sanctions – n. an action taken against a country to force it to do something or stop something
patrol – n. the act of moving through an area to make sure it is safe
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