Iran Announces New Breach of Nuclear Deal on 40th Anniversary of U.S. Embassy Takeover

Tehran announced that it is now operating 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges and is working on an even more advanced prototype centrifuge

Iranian students attend an anti U.S. demonstration, marking the 40th anniversary of the U.S. embassy takeover, near the old U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran November 4, 2019
\ WANA NEWS AGENCY/ REUTERS

The head of Iran's nuclear program says Tehran is now operating 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges in violation of its atomic deal with world powers, and is working on an even more advanced prototype centrifuge.

The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi mean that Iran is now operating double the amount of advanced centrifuges than was previously known.

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Salehi made the announcement to state TV on the 40th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

An IR-6 centrifuge can produce enriched uranium 10 times as fast as the first-generation IR-1s allowed under the accord.

The nuclear deal limited Iran to using only 5,060 first-generation IR-1 centrifuges to enrich uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas.

The new prototype centrifuge would be 50 times faster than those allowed under the nuclear deal with world powers.

By starting up these advanced centrifuges, Iran further cuts into the one-year time limit that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material to build a nuclear weapon, if it chose to pursue one.

The anniversary this year comes amid tensions heightened to a level unseen since the hostage crisis after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran.

The Iranian Consulate in Karbala, Iraq, a holy city for Shiites, saw a mob attack it overnight. Associated Press video showed a fire burned its gate as demonstrators threw gasoline bombs and climbed its walls, some waving an Iraqi flag.

Islamist students seized the embassy in 1979 after Washington allowed ousted Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to travel to the U.S. for medical treatment.