Iran Continues to Expand Enriched Uranium Stockpile, UN Watchdog Says
The UN’s watchdog has suggested that Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile has now increased by 10 times than the permitted level set under the 2015 deal.
While Iran says its nuclear programme is exclusively for peaceful purposes, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) claimed that Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile had reached 2,105 kilograms.
Recently, Iran had allowed IAEA inspectors to investigate and study one of the two suspected former nuclear sites. The inspection led to the discovery of increased stockpile. The second site is to be inspected later this month by the agency.
Last year, Iran began deliberately and publicly reneging on commitments it had made under the international nuclear accord, signed in 2015 by Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the US. This included the enrichment of uranium more than the allowed levels.
Iran’s deliberate move came in retaliation against the sanctions imposed by the US after US President Donald Trump quit Iran Nuclear Deal.
As per a US-based advocacy group the Arms Control Association, Iran would need to produce 1,050kg of 3.67% enriched uranium to manufacture a nuclear weapon, but would then need to further enrich that to 90% or more.
The nuclear deal set a limit of 300 kg of enriched uranium stockpile in a particular compound form (UF6). Low-enriched uranium – which has a concentration of between 3 percent and 5 percent of U-235 – can be used to produce fuel for power plants. Weapons-grade uranium is 90 percent enriched or more. However, experts have said that if Tehran chooses to conduct an enrichment process, it could take a long time.
Last week only, Iran had agreed “in good faith” to let IAEA inspectors access the sites and resolve issues related to nuclear safeguards, following criticism from the agency over not answering its questions about possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities at the two locations.
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