Iran has drastically upped the stakes against the West by rapidly expanding its uranium enrichment program after last week’s censure from the UN’s top nuclear watchdog.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has moved quickly to install two more cascades of advanced centrifuges at its deeply buried Fordow enrichment facility. Work is also underway on setting up four additional nuclear cascades there.

The underground Natanz site is also preparing for additional centrifuge installations, though there are no reported specifics from the IAEA yet on what advanced models or how many cascades are planned.

An IAEA source tells Reuters that the agency is concerned about the impact these moves could have within Iran’s power vacuum following the recent death of President Ebrahim Raisi. Iran’s enrichment expansion may further embolden hardliners who are just waiting for a new despot to accelerate nuclear provocations.

Overall, Iran’s quest for the atomic bomb has allegedly continued since the regime officially abandoned all limits under the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal after then-President Donald Trump withdrew US support.

Should a more radical president emerge from next month’s snap elections, Iran’s rogue enrichment work at Fordow and Natanz may be merely the opening acts in a far more dramatic confrontation with the West. At a minimum, it appears to close off any prospects for reviving the failed JCPOA anytime soon.

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