UN agency: Iran violates nuclear deal with uranium stockpile

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Atomic Energy Organization of Iran photo showing centrifuge machines in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

Israel has pressed the IAEA for some time to look into the Turquzabad facility. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu identified it in 2018 as a “secret atomic warehouse.”

Iran continues to increase its stockpile of low-enriched uranium far and beyond the limits set in a landmark nuclear deal with world powers. And it’s enriching it to a greater purity than permitted, the U.N.’s atomic watchdog agency said Wednesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries that Iran as of Nov. 2 had a stockpile of 2,442.9 kilograms (5385.7 pounds) of low-enriched uranium. That’s up from 2,105.4 kilograms (4,641.6 pounds) reported on Aug. 25.

However, the nuclear deal signed in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, allows Iran to keep a stockpile of only 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).

But the IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed under the deal.

The deal promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for the curbs on its nuclear program. Since the U.S. withdrawal and imposition of new sanctions, Tehran has been putting pressure on the remaining parties with the violations. It was trying come up with new ways to offset the economy-crippling actions by Washington.

The goal of the agreement is to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon, but the country insists it does not intend to do, despite evidence to the contrary.

A widely cited analysis by the Washington-based Arms Control Association suggests that Iran now has more than double the material it would need to make a nuclear weapon. But IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told The Associated Press in an interview last month that his agency does not share that assessment.

Before agreeing to the nuclear deal, Iran enriched its uranium up to 20% purity, That’s but a short technical step away from the weapons-grade level of 90%. And in 2013, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was already more than 7,000 kilograms (7.72 tons) with higher enrichment, but it claimed it wasn’t pursuing a bomb.

Also, the IAEA distributed a quarterly report to members on Wednesday. In it, the IAEA said it still has questions from the discovery last year of particles of uranium of man-made origin at a site outside Tehran not declared by Iran.

The United States and Israel had been pressing the IAEA for some time to look into the Turquzabad facility. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had described it to the U.N. in 2018 as a “secret atomic warehouse.”

In the current report, the IAEA said the “compositions of these isotopically altered particles” found there were “similar to particles found in Iran in the past, originating from imported centrifuge components.”

And it said it found Iran’s response to questions last month “unsatisfactory.”

Therefore, “ … the agency informed Iran that it continues to consider the country’s response to be not technically credible,” the IAEA wrote this week.

“A full and prompt explanation from Iran…is needed.”

(AP / World Israel News).

 

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