A Russian-Iranian agreement to exchange trade in their local currencies instead of the dollar

A White House National Security Council spokesman confirmed on Tuesday that the United States is “deeply concerned” by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s report on Iran’s increased production of highly enriched uranium.

“The Iranian nuclear escalation is even more concerning as Iranian-backed proxies continue their dangerous and destabilizing activities in the region, including the recent deadly drone attack, other attempts to launch attacks in Iraq and Syria, and Houthi attacks on commercial shipping ships in the Red Sea,” the spokesperson said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency announced on Tuesday that Iran had reversed a months-long slowdown in the rate of uranium enrichment to a purity of up to 60 percent, close to the level required to manufacture weapons.

Many diplomats believe the slowdown, which began by June, was linked to secret talks between the United States and Iran that led to the release of Americans detained in Iran earlier this year.

Iran already possesses a quantity of uranium enriched to a rate of up to 60 percent, which, if enriched to a greater degree, could be sufficient to make three nuclear bombs, and larger quantities at lower enrichment levels.

Iran denies seeking to possess nuclear weapons.

The agency said in a statement summarizing a confidential report to member states, seen by Reuters, that Iran “increased its production of highly enriched uranium, reversing a previous reduction in production starting from mid-2023.”

Iran is enriching to a level of up to 60 percent, close to the level of approximately 90 percent used in weapons, at the Natanz and Fordow facilities.

Since the slowdown, the two facilities have enriched uranium to 60 percent at a production rate of about three kilograms per month, the agency said.

The report stated, “The agency confirms that Iran has increased production of uranium hexafluoride enriched by up to 60 percent of uranium-235 to about 9 kilograms per month since the end of November at these two facilities combined.”

The report said agency inspectors first noticed a change in production at Fordow on November 25. Iran then said the change began on November 22 and that the production rate had returned to its pre-slowdown level.

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