What Happened: Iran has inaugurated an experimental chain of 30 advanced IR-6 centrifuges that can enrich uranium roughly ten times faster than more traditional IR-1 centrifuges, according to the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, the Mehr News Agency reported Nov. 4.
Why It Matters: The inauguration of the new centrifuges illustrates Iran's intention to shore up the capabilities of its nuclear program without blatant violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal. The measure is part of Iran's efforts to retaliate against increasing U.S. sanctions pressure, while building up leverage for potential future negotiations. President Hassan Rouhani might also announce further steps on Iran's nuclear program later this week.
Background: Salehi's comments came on the 40th anniversary of the occupation of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, a symbolic date that the Iranian government has timed to previous announcements. This week also marks the end of the latest 60-day deadline for European countries to extend economic relief to Iran in exchange for Tehran's decision to abide by the JCPOA.
- Iran May Up Its Aggression as the U.S. Expands Sanctions (Nov. 4, 2019)
- Iran May Be Weak, But Its Strategy Is Working (Sept. 12, 2019)
- Iran: Tehran Takes Another Hit at What Remains of the Nuclear Deal (Sept. 6, 2019)