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Iran grows stockpile of near weapons-grade enriched uranium

Tehran has 121.6 kilograms (268 pounds) of uranium enriched to 60%, according to a new IAEA report.

Centrifuges at the Iran nuclear energy exhibition in the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum in Tehran, 2018. Credit: Maps/Shutterstock.
Centrifuges at the Iran nuclear energy exhibition in the Islamic Revolution and Holy Defense Museum in Tehran, 2018. Credit: Maps/Shutterstock.

Iran has continued to amass uranium enriched to near weapons-grade levels, according to an International Atomic Energy Agency report obtained by the Associated Press.

The report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog shows Tehran has 121.6 kilograms (268 pounds) of uranium enriched to 60%. In May, the IAEA placed the Islamic Republic’s stockpile of 60% enriched uranium at just over 114 kilograms (250 pounds) and in February at 87.5 kilograms (192 pounds).

Uranium enriched to 60% purity is just a short technical step away from 90%, considered weapons-grade.

AP reported that Iran was still attempting to stonewall IAEA officials by denying them visas, while the “de-designation of experienced agency inspectors” was also challenging the body’s monitoring work.

Moreover, the IAEA has since February 2021 reportedly been unable to access surveillance footage from declared nuclear sites, with the only recorded data as of June last year originating from cameras at a workshop in the Iranian city of Isfahan.

Agence France Presse reported that the IAEA expressed regret over making “no progress” with Iran to clarify these outstanding issues.

Agency director general Rafael Grossi therefore “requests Iran to work with the agency in earnest and in a sustained way towards the fulfillment of the commitments,” according to AFP.

Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile was estimated at 3,795.5 kilograms (8,367.7 pounds) as of August 19, down by 949 kilograms from May.

The limit in the 2015 nuclear deal was set at 202.8 kilograms.

Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed an emerging U.S.-Iran deal for the release of five U.S. prisoners in exchange for Washington unfreezing billions of dollars in Iranian assets.

“Israel’s position is known: Arrangements that do not dismantle Iran’s nuclear infrastructure do not stop its nuclear program and only provide it with funds that go to terrorist elements sponsored by Iran,” said Netanyahu.

After the deal was announced, Tehran transferred the American detainees to house arrest and Washington moved to unfreeze $6 billion-plus in sanctioned Iranian funds held in South Korea.

Seoul owed the sum to the Islamic Republic for oil purchased before the Trump administration re-imposed penalties on such transactions following its withdrawal in 2018 from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Iran had also started slowing the pace of its uranium enrichment and diluted a small amount of its stockpile. The report was denied by the Iranians.

While details of the emerging agreement remain unknown, U.S. and Iranian officials expect it to be completed by the end of September.

In June, The New York Times reported the broad outlines of the indirect negotiations, some of which reportedly took place in the Gulf state of Oman.

The overall agreement would limit Iran’s uranium enrichment to its current production level of 60%. Iran would also put a stop to attacks against American contractors in Syria and Iraq by the regime’s terrorist proxies.

Additionally, Iran would increase its cooperation with international nuclear inspectors and halt ballistic-missile sales to Russia.

In exchange, the United States would agree not to ratchet up economic sanctions, to stop confiscating Iranian oil and not to seek punitive resolutions against Iran at the United Nations or at the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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