Iran Increases Uranium Enrichment, Israel Says Its Updating Its Strike Plans

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Iran Increases Uranium Enrichment, Israel Says Its Updating Its Strike Plans

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The Israeli military is updating plans to strike Iranian nuclear sites and is prepared to act independently, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said in an interview with Fox News.

Israel has identified numerous targets inside Iran that would hurt its ability to develop a nuclear bomb.

“If the world stops them before, it’s very much good. But if not, we must stand independently and we must defend ourselves by ourselves,” Gantz said.

Gantz said the Iranian-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah has hundreds of thousands of rockets. A classified map of targets shared with Fox News shows many of the rockets among civilian areas along the Israeli border.

“This is a target map. Each one of them has been checked legally, operationally, intelligence-wise and we are ready to fight,” Gantz added.

The Biden administration has signaled a willingness to return to the Iran nuclear deal, Israeli officials from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Gantz believe the issue of Iranian proxies must be addressed in any future agreement.

“The American policy should be American policy, and Israeli policy should stay Israeli policy,” Gantz said.

Meanwhile, Iran is using new machines to enrich uranium at the Natanz facility, Reuters reported.

Iran has started enriching uranium with a third set of advanced IR-2m centrifuges at its underground plant at Natanz, the International Atomic Energy Agency reportedly told its member states.

The move is part of a recent acceleration by Iran of its violations of restrictions under that deal, which granted Iran relief from financial sanctions in return for curbs to its nuclear activities.

The Iran Nuclear Deal allows Iran to enrich uranium only with first-generation IR-1 centrifuges at the underground, commercial scale Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz.

In November Iran started enriching there with a first set of IR-2m machines, which are far more efficient, and has since been adding to it.

“On 7 March 2021, the Agency verified at FEP that: Iran had begun feeding natural UF6 into the third cascade of 174 IR-2m centrifuges,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report obtained by Reuters, referring to uranium hexafluoride, the form in which uranium is fed into centrifuges to purify it.

“The fourth cascade of 174 IR-2m centrifuges was installed but had yet to be fed with natural UF6; installation of a fifth cascade of IR-2m centrifuges was ongoing; and installation of a sixth cascade of IR-2m centrifuges had yet to begin,” it added.

In addition to its IR-1 machines, Iran is now using 522 IR-2m centrifuges to enrich uranium to up to 5% fissile purity at the FEP, the IAEA added. That is more than the 3.67% purity allowed under the deal but less than the 20% it is enriching to at another facility, Fordow. Uranium enriched to 90% purity can be used to make an atomic weapon.

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