TEHRAN, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) — The nuclear chief in Iran said Sunday that the Islamic republic has taken initial steps for 20-percent uranium enrichment to produce fuel for its nuclear reactor.

“Taking initial measures to design the modern fuel (enriched to) 20 percent has begun,” Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, was quoted as saying by the Tasnim News Agency.

“In the nuclear science and industry, we have made so much progress that we can design modern fuel ourselves instead of reverse engineering and using others’ designs, which is a great achievement for the country,” Salehi said.

Tehran’s nuclear reactor has been working with old fuel, but the modern fuel would boost the reactor’s efficiency, he added.

Based on the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the world powers in 2015, the Islamic republic agreed to suspend 20-percent uranium enrichment which is limited to 3.5 percent.

But the United States withdrew from the landmark nuclear deal last May and has reimposed sanctions on Iran.

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