In a step back from its commitments under a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, Iran on Thursday resumed uranium enrichment at its underground Fordow plant south of Tehran. “Engineers began feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into the plant's mothballed enrichment centrifuges in the first minutes of Thursday", the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation said. The resumption of enrichment at Fordow is Iran's fourth step away from the agreement.
"All these activities have been carried out under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency," the Iranian nuclear organisation said.
Tehran said on Thursday that it had withdrawn the credentials of one IAEA inspector last week after she triggered an alarm at the gate to Iran's other enrichment plant at Natanz, raising suspicion she was carrying a "suspect product".
French President Emmanuel Macron said Iran had made "grave" decisions and its resumption of uranium enrichment was a "profound change" from Tehran's previous position.
Iran has been locked in a standoff with the United States and its Gulf Arab allies since US President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 deal that gave it relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear programme.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran’s sovereign wealth fund, whose board of trustees includes President Hassan Rouhani, as well as Etemad Tejarate Pars, a company that the Treasury Department said had sent money internationally on behalf of Iran’s defence ministry.
Earlier, Trump while addressing the UNGA had already ruled out any possibility of easing economic pressure on Iran. Tensions between Iran and US ratcheted up after the Trump administration announced that it would unilaterally force all countries to stop buying Iran’s oil, which is its major export.
In New York, Rouhani urged the United States to cease its “policy of maximum pressure” on his nation, saying it was driving the possibility of negotiations even further away.