Iran's atomic energy agency has said the country plans to quadruple production of low-level enriched uranium and will reach the limit of the stockpile allowed under the nuclear deal within days.

The Iranian Government on Wednesday said it was continuing to develop its nuclear programme despite COVID-19 wrecking havoc on the country

Ali Akbar Salehi, who heads Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, told State Television that a new generation of centrifuges would soon come online at the Natanz fuel enrichment plant.

Iran has long maintained that it uses its nuclear capabilities for peaceful purposes, including power generation and medical treatments.

Salehi said that during the pandemic, which has killed more than 3,800 people in the country, the nuclear programme had been used to assist in manufacturing medical supplies.

According to President Hassan Rowhani, the Iranian nuclear programme is now more advanced than it was before the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, especially the country’s uranium-enrichment capacity.

Rowhani, however, said that a total exit of Iran from the agreement was not on the agenda for the time being.

The Vienna agreement was intended to enable Iran to have a civilian nuclear programme, while preventing nuclear weapons, in exchange for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.

The deal began to fray in 2018 as the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. and re-imposed sanctions. Iran then began violating many of the agreements made in 2015, leaving the deal on life support.

Rowhani reiterated that Iran was ready at any time to return fully to the accord as soon as the other parties meet their obligations and, in particular, lift the sanctions.

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