Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile 16 times over nuclear deal limit: IAEA

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium is around 16 times the limit laid down in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear agreement signed between Tehran and major world powers in 2015.

In its quarterly report on Monday, the IAEA said Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was estimated to be 3,241 kilograms as of May 22 (vs 2,967.8 kilograms in February). The limit laid down in the deal was 300 kilograms of uranium in a particular compound form, the equivalent of 202.8 kilograms of uranium.

According to the report, the quarterly increase in Iran’s enriched uranium stock was estimated to be 273.2 kilograms, (vs 524.9 kg in February).

It said 15 cascades of IR-1 centrifuges, three IR-2M cascades and two IR-4 cascades were being fed with natural uranium hexafluoride gas on May 24 at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility.

The IAEA report said Iran’s stock of uranium enriched to up to 60 percent purity was estimated to be 2.4 kilograms (vs none in February) and gave an estimate of 62.8 kilograms of the country’s stock of uranium enriched to up to 20 percent purity (vs 17.6 kilograms in February).

It added that the agency verified on May 18 that Iran had produced 2.42 kilograms of uranium metal.

The IAEA issued a second quarterly report on Iran alongside the main report on the so-called still-unexplained uranium traces.

In the report, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi expressed “his concern over technical discussions with Iran,” which “have not yielded the expected results,” emphasizing that Tehran should clarify these issues without delay.

The second IAEA report claimed that Iran has not provided necessary explanation for the presence of nuclear material particles at any of the three locations inspected.

Grossi expressed hope that progress would be made in the ongoing Vienna talks before the meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors next week.

Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said last week that the country continues to enrich uranium to 60 percent purity level as talks between the country and the remaining signatories to the JCPOA continue in the Austrian capital.

“Uranium enrichment at 60%, 20% and 5% purity levels still continues [by Iran] and our stockpiles of the 20% enriched uranium stand at over 90 kilograms,” Salehi said.

Based on a law approved by Iran’s Parliament, the country is scheduled to produce 120 kilograms of enriched uranium with a 20-percent purity level per year, the Iranian nuclear chief said, adding that the figure now stood at 90 kilograms after some four months.

Last December, Iranian lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favor of the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions.

The law tasked the AEOI with producing and storing at least 120 kilograms of enriched uranium with a 20-percent purity level every year and raising enrichment beyond 20 percent according to the country’s needs.

Under former president Donald Trump, the US in May 2018 withdrew from the landmark nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was signed by Iran and major world powers. Trump also initiated a “maximum pressure” policy against Iran, prompting Tehran to take remedial measures by gradually reducing its nuclear commitments under the deal.

Tehran responded to the US noncompliance through taking a series of remedial measures envisaged in the nuclear deal if in case the other side did not observe its obligations.

Iran has insisted that it would observe its commitments only after the US removed all its sanctions in one step and Tehran could verify it.

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