Iran’s Uranium Stockpile Continues to Grow, Reports Show
Open questions on uranium traces remain, reports show
Iran’s stock of uranium enriched to up to 60% purity, close to weapons grade, continues to grow and there has been no progress in talks with Tehran on sensitive issues such as explaining uranium traces at undeclared sites, two reports by the U.N. nuclear watchdog seen by Reuters said on Monday.
Iran refuses to allow installation of more cameras
According to one of the confidential quarterly reports to member states, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to up to 60% purity, close to the roughly 90% of weapons grade, continued to increase albeit at a slower pace, despite some of it having been diluted.
Stock of uranium enriched to up to 60% keeps growing
“The (IAEA) Director General (Rafael Grossi) regrets that there has been no progress in resolving the outstanding safeguards issues in this reporting period,” one report said, referring to Iran’s failure to credibly explain the origin of uranium particles found at two undeclared sites.
Rate of 60% production has slowed and small amount diluted
The reports, sent to IAEA member states ahead of a quarterly meeting of the IAEA’s 35-nation Board of Governors next week, also said that after limited progress on re-installing IAEA surveillance cameras in the previous quarter, there had since been none, further raising tensions with Western powers.
Implications and concerns
- Iran’s stock of uranium enriched to up to 60% grew by an estimated 7.5 kg to 121.6 kg, the report said, even though 6.4 kg of it was diluted with uranium enriched to a lower level.
- Iran’s production of uranium enriched to up to 60% has slowed to around 3 kg a month from about 9 kg a month previously.
- Iran’s stock of uranium enriched to 60% is now almost three times the roughly 42 kg that by the IAEA’s definition is theoretically enough, if enriched further, to produce a nuclear bomb.
- IAEA continues to have regular access to Iran’s declared nuclear facilities and its core nuclear activities, but the 2015 deal added monitoring to areas such as the production of parts for centrifuges.
- Even where IAEA monitoring equipment has been re-installed, such as at a site in Isfahan, it does not have access to the footage that its cameras record since that was not included in the March agreement it negotiated with Iran.
Iran denies wanting to produce nuclear weapons, but the growing stockpile and lack of progress in resolving outstanding issues raise concerns among Western powers.
The situation regarding Iran’s uranium stockpile and its refusal to allow installation of more cameras raises concerns about its nuclear program. The lack of progress in resolving outstanding issues and the growing stockpile of uranium enriched to up to 60% purity are causes for concern among Western powers.
Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Ed Osmond, William Maclean
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