Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Iran announced Monday it would boost uranium enrichment, moving it to a target goal of 20%, well above the 3.67% cap placed in the Obama-era multinational agreement President Donald Trump walked away from in 2018.
The announcement adds to the challenges faced by the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden weeks ahead of his inauguration.
Iran agreed to the uranium enrichment limits in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action with the United States, Russia, China, France, Russia, Britain, and Germany. While the other countries have remained part of the deal, Iran has chipped away at its restrictions since the Trump administration's departure.
Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei said Monday Iran has started the pre-processing stage of gas injection at its Fordow nuclear site, adding that the first UF6 enriched uranium would be produced later in the day, according to Iranian media outlet IRNA.
On Friday, Fredrik Dahl, a spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Iranian officials said they will enrich uranium at 20%.
Before the announcement, Iran was enriching its uranium stockpile up to about 4.5%, just above the agreement's 3.67% cap. Even at 20%, it is well below 90% for it to be considered weapons-grade. Iran has long denied its nuclear program was meant to make weapons.