MIDDLE EAST

Iran says injecting gas into 1,044 centrifuges

A picture dated October 26, 2010 shows the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 1200 Kms south of Tehran. (AFP)

Iran has started injecting gas into 1,044 centrifuges in Fordow nuclear plant, the country's nuclear authority said Saturday.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said the gas injection in Fordow, 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast of the city of Qom, was taken upon orders from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, according to the official IRNA news agency.

"The machines are now active and have already yielded product," he said, adding that samples have been taken from the products and the AEOI has asked the UN nuclear watchdog IAEA to dispatch experts to examine them.

He further said that the IAEA experts are expected to arrive in Iran on Sunday to carry out verification tests on the samples.

The gas injection in Fordow was the fourth step of decreasing its commitment to the 2015 nuclear agreement.

Iran started to cut its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal in a retaliatory move following the U.S.' unilateral decision to withdraw from the agreement between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the EU.

The U.S. has since embarked upon a diplomatic and economic campaign to ramp up pressure on Iran to force it to renegotiate the agreement.

The deal allows Iran to reduce its commitments in case of other parties' breaches. Tehran insists the EU to act more actively regarding the implementation of its part of obligations, saying it will return to the full compliance with the deal once the EU has nullified the U.S. sanctions.

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