Iran says it could ‘easily’ produce uranium for nuclear weapons in latest threat as tensions soar with US

IRAN has boasted it can "easily" produce the high-grade uranium needed for nukes in what is being seen as a chilling new threat to the US.

The Islamic Republic's Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI) claims it has the ability to enrich uranium to 90 per cent weapons-grade levels "if needed".

"We have made so much progress we can easily produce enriched uranium at any level… up to 40 per cent, 60 per cent, and 90 per cent,” said AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi.

He then claimed that his organisation is permitted to enrich uranium beyond 20 per cent purity under a bill the Iranian parliament passed in December.

However, he added that the government was now studying “if there is a need for it” at the moment.

On Wednesday,the UK, France and Germany jointly slammed Tehran’s announcement it had started uranium enrichment to 20 per cent.

They called it a “clear violation” of the 2015 nuclear deal which caps its uranium purity at just 3.67 per cent.

The increase in uranium production to 20 per cent moves the element into the category of highly enriched uranium (HEU) which can be used in bombs.

However, nuclear weapons typically use uranium enriched to around 90 per cent.

The Sun Online reported how Iran had ramped up its uranium production at an underground facility on the anniversary of General Qasem Soleimani's murder.

The powerful military chief was taken out in a US drone strike days after protesters attacked the American embassy in Baghdad.

The Pentagon justified the assassination saying he was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region."

The Pentagon also said he had approved the earlier attacks on the embassy in the Iraqi capital.

Following the assassination, Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei promised "harsh vengeance," "jihad" and "crushing revenge" against 35 US targets.

And at the weekend, Iran slammed "imbecile" President Donald Trump and hinted that "revenge" for Soleimani's killing could even come from "inside" the US.

US and Iran – a troubled history

  • Before the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iran was one of America's biggest allies in the Middle East and was led by the US-backed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.
  • However, since the seismic revolt, Iran has been led by murderous Islamic fundamentalists and tensions with Washington have remained ever since.
  • On November 4, 1979, the Iranian regime took 52 US diplomats hostage in response to President Carter’s administration allowing Iran’s deposed former leader into America.
  • The hostage crisis lasted for 444 days and also included a failed rescue mission which cost the lives of eight US soldiers.
  • In April 1980, the US ended diplomatic relations with Iran – a break which lasted for more than 30 years.
  • In April 1983, Washington blamed the Iranian-funded terror group Hezbollah for carrying out a bombing attack on the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.
  • The assault, carried out amid a brutal civil war in Lebanon, killed 17 Americans.
  • In November of that year, two truck bombs in Beirut killed 241 US peace keepers. The US again blamed Hezbollah for the incident.
  • The Clinton White House, in 1995, placed a total embargo on Iran meaning US companies could not trade with the country.
  • And in 2002, George W Bush included the Islamic Republic in his famous “Axis of evil” speech along with North Korea and Iraq.
  • On January 3, 2020, Iran's General Soleimani (pictured above) was killed  by a US drone strike in Iraq

Soleimani's replacement Esmail Qaani, said: "For 30 years, you sought to assassinate our leaders Soleimani…and an imbecile backed by the Zionists and the House of Saud committed this heinous crime.

"This criminal assassination [of Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis] opened the door for the free sons of our Muslim nation to take revenge.."

According to France24, the judiciary chief for Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, said the people responsible for Soleimani's death will "not be safe on Earth."

Last month, we reported how new satellite photographs revealed Iran had begun construction at a secret underground nuclear facility.

The ramping up of its capability comes in the wake of it vowing to revenge the killing of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, who died in a bomb and gun attack near its capital.

Iran has promised to "strike like thunder" on whoever carried out the attack – widely believed to be work of an elite Israeli hit squad.

The Islamic Republic has never acknowledged any new building work at its Fordo site, which is built deep inside a mountain to protect it from air strikes.

The new pictures of Fordo emerged via a Twitter account called Observer IL, which cited them as it as coming from South Korea’s Korea Aerospace Research Institute.

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