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Iran president calls 60% enrichment an answer to 'evilness'

Iran's president on Wednesday called Tehran's decision to enrich uranium up to 60% after saboteurs attacked a nuclear site “an answer to your evilness,” linking the incident to ongoing talks in Vienna over its tattered nuclear deal with world powers.

Israel, which hasn't comment on the attack, is suspected of carrying out this weekend's assault at the Natanz nuclear facility, part of an escalating shadow war between the two countries.

The escalation in enrichment could see further retaliation as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed never to allow Tehran to obtain a nuclear weapon. His country has twice preemptively bombed Mideast nations to stop their atomic programs.

Speaking to his Cabinet, an impassioned President Hassan Rouhani said damaged first-generation IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz would be replaced by advanced IR-6 centrifuges that enrich uranium much faster.

"You wanted to make our hands empty during the talks but our hands are full," Rouhani said.

He added: “60% enrichment is an answer to your evilness. ... We cut both of your hands, one with IR-6 centrifuges and another one with 60%.” IR-6s enrich uranium far faster than its IR-1 first-generation centrifuges.

Iran announced Tuesday it would enrich uranium to its highest level ever in response to the weekend attack at Natanz.

Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.