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Iran increases uranium stockpile over 30 times the 2015 deal limit, raising concerns amid diplomatic stalemate

Iran increases uranium stockpile over 30 times the 2015 deal limit, raising concerns amid diplomatic stalemate
By Yagiz Efe Parmaksiz
May 27, 2024 8:35 PM

The IAEA finds out Iran has 142.1 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 60% purity, which is 30 times the 2015 deal limit

A classified UN nuclear watchdog study issued on Monday found that Iran had dramatically boosted its stockpile of near-weapons-grade uranium over 30 times the 2015 deal limit.

According to the IAEA assessment reviewed by several independent news organizations, Iran currently has 142.1 kilograms (313.2 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 60% purity, up 20.6 kilograms (45.4 pounds) from February.

International worries arise because 60%-enriched uranium is close to the 90% purity level needed for weapons-grade material. Iran now possesses 6201.3 kilograms (13671.5 pounds) of enriched uranium, up 675.8 kilograms (1489.8 pounds) from the previous quarter.

Despite its expanding stockpile, Iran claims its nuclear program is benign. However, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi has cautioned that Iran’s enrichment operations might produce several nuclear weapons if weaponized. The IAEA has also struggled to prevent Iran’s centrifuges from being used for covert enrichment.

The IAEA-Tehran diplomatic attempts have suffered setbacks. Iran has not altered its September 2023 decision to exclude some of the agency’s most experienced nuclear inspectors from overseeing its nuclear program, according to the IAEA report. The study expected Iran to reconsider its decision after talks.

The helicopter accident that killed Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister has halted the UN nuclear watchdog’s negotiations with Tehran to improve cooperation. Iran requested in a May 21 letter that conversations be postponed until a mutually convenient period after the catastrophe.

The IAEA’s report highlights the ongoing obstacles its inspectors confront, especially in light of the unresolved tensions after the 2015 nuclear agreement went south, which had limited Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief. Tehran’s diminished cooperation, including surveillance device deactivation and UN inspection limits, has worsened these issues.

Given recent events, Grossi’s recent visit to Iran to improve collaboration was deemed “completely unsatisfactory.”

EU-mediated efforts to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, including getting the US back in and verifying Iran’s compliance, have failed. The IAEA’s acknowledgement of the enlarged uranium stockpile highlights the challenges of diplomatic discussions amid regional tensions, especially the Israel-Hamas war

Source: AP, AFP

Last Updated:  Jun 3, 2024 5:03 PM