Iran ramps up uranium enrichment and seizes tanker as tensions rise with US
Amid heightened tensions with the US, Iran announced on Monday that it had resumed enriching uranium to 20% purity. This is prohibited under the 2015 nuclear deal forged with the US and is likely to further escalate tensions between the two countries. Iran also allegedly seized a South Korea chemical tanker on Monday, claiming that the seizure was based on environmental effects such as chemical pollution in the Persian Gulf.
Both of the developments come a day after the one-year anniversary of the death of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, who died due to an airstrike conducted by the US. President Trump instructed the Pentagon to keep a US aircraft carrier in the Middle East, which reverses a previous decision to send it out of the region. An Iranian government spokesman claimed that experts had re-started the uranium enrichment program, boosting enrichment from 4.5% to 20%. Iran still denies any intent to create nuclear weapons.