A worker works at the Fuel Manufacturing plant at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility 440 km (273 miles) south of Tehran April 9, 2009. REUTERS/Caren Firouz (IRAN POLITICS ENERGY)

The International Atomic Energy Agency announced on Tuesday that Iran has put in place a new mechanism to speed up the production of 60 percent enriched uranium, while diplomatic talks are underway to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal.

In his latest report, the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, told member states that Tehran “has reached a new operational mechanism for the production of 60 percent enriched uranium” at the Natanz facility (center), according to an announcement seen by AFP.

The UN agency explained that the new mechanism is based on the use of “two sets of centrifuges” instead of one, excluding an initial test for a few days conducted in April, adding that Tehran has already launched this mechanism.

In April, Iran began enriching uranium to 60 percent, compared to 20 percent previously, which is much higher than the 3.67 percent set in the international agreement on the Iranian nuclear program.

Building a nuclear bomb requires an enrichment rate of up to 90 percent, as well as other basic stages.

Tehran, which has long denied seeking a nuclear bomb, has gradually evaded its commitments since the United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018.

The agreement has become under threat since then-US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw from it and re-impose US sanctions on Tehran.

US President Joe Biden is seeking to return to the agreement, and indirect talks in this regard began in Vienna in April, with European mediation.

However, the last session, held on June 20, did not lead to any tangible progress.

The European Union spoke of a possible resumption of talks in early September, while Iran’s new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, welcomed efforts to lift US sanctions that are stifling his country’s economy.

On Monday, the United States expressed concern over the recent announcement by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran is working on the production of enriched metallic uranium, calling on Tehran to return to the negotiating table.

According to Grossi’s report, Iran has produced 200 grams of enriched metallic uranium after it announced earlier this year that it had begun producing metallic uranium for research purposes, a sensitive topic because this material can be used in the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

The US State Department said that the United States had seen the latest report prepared by members of the International Atomic Energy Agency and considered that Iran “has no real need to produce metallic uranium.”

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