Ayatollah Khamenei. Image Credit: Tasnim News, CC BY 4.0.

The US government has expressed “deep concern” this week over progress Iran is making on its nuclear programme and ballistic missile capacity, while a number of European governments, including the UK, accused Tehran of ramping up uranium enrichment with “no credible civilian justification”.

The reaction came hours after Iran confirmed it had begun enriching uranium to 60 percent at the Fordo underground facility between Tehran and Isfahan, putting it a short technical step away from weapons-grade uranium.

“We’re going to make sure we have all options available to the president”, White House spokesman John Kirkby said on Tuesday.

“We certainly have not changed our view that we will not allow Iran to achieve a nuclear weapons capability”.

In a joint statement, the UK, France and Germany said Iran was moving “well beyond” limits set down in the 2015 nuclear deal, alleging that the “significant steps” Iran was taking would “further hollow out the JCPOA”.

By enriching uranium up to 60 percent at Fordo, Iran was challenging global non-proliferation, they added.

Iran said on Tuesday that it had moved ahead on uranium enrichment that are widely seen as part of a covert nuclear weapons programme.