Iran begins research, development of uranium metal

Iran has launched research and development for the production of uranium metal, which could be used to make material for nuclear weapons.

The UN nuclear agency, the IAEA, told NHK on Wednesday that Iran notified the agency in writing that the country started the work at a nuclear facility in the central province of Isfahan by setting up new equipment.

Iran's Ambassador to the IAEA, Kazem Gharib Abadi, wrote on Twitter that uranium metal will be used as fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, which Iran claims is for peaceful purposes.

Iran's latest move is believed to be a breach of the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers that bans the research, development and production of uranium metal for a certain period of time.

Earlier this month, the Iranian government had resumed enriching uranium to 20 percent purity at a nuclear facility in Fordow, central Iran, in breach of the nuclear deal.

Analysts say that with the move toward the production of uranium metal, Iran is possibly trying to put pressure on the next US administration of incoming President Joe Biden, in an attempt to have sanctions lifted.

They also say Iran will be under growing criticism from the US and European nations for stepping up its nuclear programs.