Iran moves to ramp up uranium enrichment and ban international inspectors

An Iranian flag in front of a nuclear facility.
(Image credit: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images)

Following the assassination last week of its top nuclear scientist, Iran on Wednesday imposed a law ordering the country's Atomic Energy Agency to immediately increase its enrichment of uranium.

Under the measure, the uranium will be enriched to 20 percent purity, a level that would give Iran the chance to convert its entire stockpile to bomb-grade levels within six months, The New York Times reports. Further, the law calls for the expulsion of international nuclear inspectors if U.S. oil and banking sanctions against Iran are not lifted by early February.

The law appears to be set up in a way to get President-elect Joe Biden to re-enter the nuclear deal with Iran that President Trump abandoned, the Times notes. It was ratified on Wednesday by Iran's Guardian Council, but President Hassan Rouhani said the government "does not agree with this legislation and considers it damaging for diplomacy."

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Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed on Friday, and while several global intelligence officials have pinned his assassination on Israel, the Israeli government has not taken responsibility. Iran has vowed to retaliate.

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