Iran's Rohani Calls 60-percent Enrichment an Answer to 'Evilness' After Natanz Attack

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Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, April 2021.
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, April 2021.Credit: Iranian Presidency Office via AP

Iran's president has described Tehran's decision to enrich uranium up to 60 percent after saboteurs attacked a nuclear site “an answer to your evilness."

Iran announced Tuesday it would enrich uranium to its highest level ever in response to the weekend attack at its Natanz nuclear site.

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President Hassan Rohani made the comments Wednesday at a Cabinet meeting. He said: "You wanted to make our hands empty during the talks but our hands are full.”

He added: "60-percent enrichment is an answer to your evilness. ... We cut both of your hands, one with IR-6 centrifuges and another one with 60 percent."

IR-6s enrich uranium far faster than its IR-1 first-generation centrifuges.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Israel was behind the attack, calling it a "very bad gamble" that would strengthen Tehran's hand in talks to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

"Israel played a very bad gamble if it thought that the attack will weaken Iran's hand in the nuclear talks," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told a joint news conference with his Russian counterpart in Tehran.

"On the contrary, it will strengthen our position."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki meanwhile said that "The U.S. was not involved in any manner. We have nothing to add on speculations about the causes or impact."

The Natanz facility, which is located in the desert in the central province of Isfahan, is the centerpiece of Iran's uranium enrichment program and monitored by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog. 

Some U.S. officials did express concern that the Natanz explosion will cause the Iranians to increase their clandestine nuclear activities.

Last week, Iran and the global powers held what they described as "constructive" talks to salvage the deal, which has unraveled as Iran has breached its limits on sensitive uranium enrichment since Trump reimposed harsh sanctions on Tehran.

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