Western Morning News
Incidents in Iran escalate tension
IRAN has begun enriching uranium up to 20% at an underground facility and has seized a South Korean-flagged oil tanker in the crucial Strait of Hormuz, further escalating tensions in the Middle East between Tehran and the West.
The announcement of enrichment at Fordow came as fears rose that Tehran had seized the MT Hankuk Chemi, which was reportedly carrying ethanol. Iran later acknowledged the seizure, alleging the vessel’s “oil pollution” sparked the move.
However, hours earlier, Tehran said a South Korean diplomat was expected to visit in the coming days to negotiate the release of billions of dollars in its assets now frozen in Seoul.
The incidents come amid heightened tensions between
Iran and the United States in the waning days of President Donald Trump’s term in office. During Mr Trump’s tenure, he unilaterally withdrew from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers in 2018, which increasingly strained relations between the countries.
Iranian state television said that President Hassan Rouhani had given the order for the move at the Fordow facility. A resumption of 20% enrichment represents a level of purity that is only a technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90% enrichment.