WHITE HOUSE - Iran is marking the 40th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran with an announcement that it is speeding up uranium processing.
"We see this as a continuation of nuclear blackmail," a senior U.S. official remarked after Iran's nuclear chief claimed the country is now operating dozens of advanced centrifuges — a move that further goes against the 2015 agreement the country signed with a group of world powers.
The announcement, according to the U.S. official, is an attempt by Tehran to get the worried European signatories of the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Agreement to make concessions to Iran. U.S. President Donald Trump, asked later in the day by VOA what should be done about the new, advanced centrifuges, replied: "We're looking into that. We'll see."
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, told state television that Iran is operating the IR-6 centrifuges, which allow the processing of uranium much faster than the IR-1 centrifuges Iran was allowed to use under the JCPOA.
Salehi also said Iran is working on the development of even faster centrifuges called the IR-9, which he claimed will work 50 times faster than the IR-1.
This is "a big step in the wrong direction," according to a senior administration official, who added, "We call on nations to condemn Iran's escalatory steps."
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