Iran starts 20% uranium enrichment, seizes S Korean tanker near Hormuz

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Manage episode 291429366 series 2530089
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Iran began enriching uranium Jan. 4 to levels unseen since it signed a nuclear deal with world powers in 2015 and also seized a South Korean-flagged tanker near the Strait of Hormuz, twin challenges to the West that further raise Middle East tensions. Both decisions appeared to be aimed at increasing Tehran’s leverage in the waning days of Donald Trump’s time as U.S. president. His unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018 began a series of escalating incidents. Increasing enrichment at its underground Fordo facility puts Tehran a short step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%, while also pressuring President-elect Joe Biden to quickly negotiate. Iran’s seizure of the MT Hankuk Chemi comes as a South Korean diplomat was due to travel to the Islamic Republic to discuss the release of billions of dollars in Iranian assets frozen in Seoul. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif seemed to acknowledge Tehran’s interest in leveraging the situation in a tweet about its nuclear enrichment. (AP) This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

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