Iran said on Wednesday it could enrich uranium up to 90% purity — weapons grade — if its nuclear reactors needed it, but added it still sought the revival of a 2015 deal that would limit its atomic programme in return for a lifting of sanctions.
President Hassan Rouhani’s remark is his second such public comment this year about 90% enrichment — a level suitable for a nuclear bomb — underlining Iran’s resolve to keep breaching the deal in the absence of any accord to revive it.
The biggest obstacle to producing nuclear weapons is obtaining enough fissile material – weapons-grade highly enriched uranium or plutonium – for the bomb’s core.
Iran says it has never sought nuclear weapons.
“Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation can enrich uranium by 20% and 60% and if one day our reactors need it, it can enrich uranium to 90% purity,” Rouhani told a cabinet meeting, Iranian state media reported.
The nuclear deal caps the fissile purity to which Tehran can refine uranium at 3.67%, well under the 20% achieved before the pact and far below the 90% suitable for a nuclear weapon.