Iran’s uranium content increases nuclear concerns, but Tehran says it is still transparent.


According to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran continues to enrich uranium that could one day be used in a nuclear weapon, thereby increasing its stockpiles to 12 times the amount allowed under the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan of 2015.

On November 2, the IAEA reported that Iran has a stockpile of 2,442.9 kilograms (5,385.7 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, up from 2,105.4 kilograms on August 25, the Associated Press reported on Wednesday.

This is 12 times the 202.8 kilogram (2,105.4 kilograms) limit agreed under the 2015 agreement, which is in limbo since President Donald Trump resigned from the agreement in 2018. The president vowed to negotiate a new agreement but failed to do so despite the imposition of sanctions with “maximum pressure” to force Tehran back to the negotiating table.

The IAEA also said that Iran continues to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5 percent – higher than the 3.67 percent agreed under the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA). Uranium must be enriched to about 90 percent for use in weapons, but can be used in nuclear energy if enriched to 3 to 5 percent.

It is unclear how close Iran is to building a nuclear weapon, should Tehran decide to go down this route. Iranian officials have long claimed that Iran has no interest in nuclear weapons and instead concentrates exclusively on peaceful nuclear power.

The Arms Control Association has stated that Iran now has twice as much material as is needed to make a warhead, but IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said last month that his agency believes Tehran does not yet have enough material.

Before signing the JCPOA, Iran had enriched uranium to as much as 20 percent. The technical step to go from 20 to weapons-grade 90 percent is short, but Iran has not taken it. Tehran also had more than 7,000 kilograms of enriched uranium at that time, but did not push for a bomb.

Iran continued to let IAEA inspectors into the country and was open about its decisions to violate the JCPOA clauses. Following the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani by the US in Baghdad in January, Iran said it would no longer abide by any elements of the agreement.

On Wednesday, Permanent Representative Kazem Gharibabadi-Iran to the IAEA said that while the Agency’s report was correct, the fact that Tehran continues to grant access to inspectors shows that its country does not pursue nuclear weapons.

However, the IAEA said that there are still questions about the discovery of man-made uranium particles at an undeclared site outside Tehran last year. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the Turquzabad facility a “secret nuclear storage facility”.

Both Israeli and American officials have accused Iran of operating a secret parallel nuclear program outside the jurisdiction of the IAEA.

Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, said Tehran had agreed to cooperate “in good faith” with the IAEA to resolve outstanding issues. Ravanchi also tried to draw attention to Saudi Arabia, whose royal family, supported by the Trump administration, is striving for nuclear power.

“If Saudi Arabia wants a peaceful nuclear program, it should act very transparently and allow the agency’s inspectors to review its activities,” he said. Ravanchi added that the IAEA should take “an unbiased and professional attitude” towards Israel, which is believed to possess nuclear weapons but is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


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