DUBAI: Iran has made 6.5kg of uranium enriched to up to 60 per cent, the government said on Tuesday, detailing a move that rattled the country's nuclear talks with world powers by taking the fissile material a step towards nuclear weapons-grade of 90 per cent.
Government spokesman Ali Rabiei was quoted by state media as saying the country had also produced 108 kg of uranium enriched to 20 per cent purity, indicating quicker output than the rate required by the Iranian law that created the process.
Iran said in April it would begin enriching uranium to 60 per cent purity, a move that would take the uranium much closer to the 90 per cent suitable for a nuclear bomb, after Tehran accused arch-foe Israel of sabotaging a key nuclear site.
Tuesday's disclosure came as Tehran and Washington hold indirect talks in Vienna aimed at finding ways to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers.
Iran’s hardline parliament passed a law last year to oblige the government to harden its nuclear stance, partly in reaction to former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018.
Trump’s withdrawal prompted Iran to steadily overstep the accord’s limits on its nuclear programme designed to make it harder to develop an atomic bomb - an ambition Tehran denies.
"Under parliament's law ..., the Atomic Energy Organization was supposed to produce 120kg of 20 per cent enriched uranium in a year. According to the latest report, we now have produced 108kg of 20 per cent uranium in the past five months," Rabiei was quoted as saying.
"In the area of 60 per cent uranium production, in the short time that has elapsed ..., about 6.5kg has been produced," Rabiei added.
A quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear activities by the UN nuclear watchdog in May said that, as of May 22, Tehran had produced 62.8kg of uranium enriched up to 20 per cent, and 2.4kg of uranium enriched up to 60 per cent, with the next level down being enriched to between 2 per cent and 5 per cent.