Iran announces reopening of uranium enrichment plant; France warns of ‘red line’

by WorldTribune Staff, June 29, 2018

Iran’s reopening of a uranium enrichment facility in Isfahan that had been idle for nine years brings the Islamic Republic close to a “red line,” France’s foreign minister warned.

Uranium enrichment facility at Isfahan

“It is always dangerous to flirt with red lines,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, though he stressed the facility’s reopening did not constitute a breach of the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran’s atomic energy agency (AEOI) made the announcement about reopening the facility on June 27, according a Reuters report.

European signatories of the nuclear deal continue to attempt to salvage it after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in May.

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ordered the AEOI this month to start preparations to upgrade enrichment capacity in case the European efforts fail.

The AEOI said on June 27 that, in response to Khamenei’s order and Trump’s renunciation of the deal, a plant for the production of UF6, the feedstock for centrifuge machines that enrich uranium, had been relaunched and a barrel of yellow cake has been delivered there.

Uranium ore, known as yellow cake, is converted into a gas called uranium hexafluoride (UF6) before enrichment.

The UF6 factory, which had been inactive since 2009 due to a lack of yellow cake, is part of the Isfahan uranium conversion facility, the AEOI said on its website.

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