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IAEA confirms Iran installing new centrifuges

The Associated Press BERLIN (AP) — The United Nations’ atomic watchdog confirmed Monday that Iran is preparing to use more advanced centrifuges, another breach of limits set in the country’s slowly unraveling nuclear deal with major powers.

Iran had already announced the step, its latest violation of the 2015 agreement as it tries to pressure European signatories to find a way to maintain oil shipments and ease the toll of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian economy.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported its inspectors verified the installation of new centrifuges. The agency said all had been “prepared for testing” but none yet tested at the time of the Sept. 7-8 inspection.

The nuclear deal was meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons — something Iran denies it wants to do — in exchange for economic incentives. Its collapse started with the United States unilaterally withdrawing from the deal last year and imposing increased sanctions.

The other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, as well as the European Union — have been struggling to salvage the agreement and find a way to meet Tehran’s demands.

To put pressure on them, Iran has already pushed past limits in the deal, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, on nuclear enrichment purity and stockpiles of enriched uranium.

A centrifuge is a device that enriches uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas. The IAEA said the ones its inspectors saw included 30 advanced IR-6 and three IR-6s models, as well as multiple IR-4 and IR-5 models.

Under the atomic accord, Iran has been limited to operating 5,060 older-model IR-1 centrifuges.

Asked what the new centrifuges could mean to enhance Iran’s ability to enrich uranium, IAEA Acting Director General Cornel Feruta said “output is not a simple matter” but also it was “not for the agency to judge what these actions will bring.”

“We have made it very clear that the role of the agency is to report the facts to members of the JCPOA and also the board,” Feruta told reporters in Vienna.Speech

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