Iran ‘triples’ enriched uranium stockpile
Iran has nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium since November in violation of its deal with world powers, U.N. atomic watchdog agency said Tuesday, Associated Press repots. It raises new questions about possible nuclear-related activities and undeclared nuclear material at three locations, The Japan News writes in the article Iran ‘triples’ enriched uranium stockpile.
The International Atomic Energy Agency made the statement in a confidential report distributed to member countries that was seen by The Associated Press. The agency said as of Feb. 19, Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons), compared to 372.3 kilograms on Nov. 3, 2019, noted in its November report. The current stockpile puts Iran within reach of the amount needed to produce a nuclear weapon, which it insists it doesn’t want to do.
The nuclear deal that Iran signed in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms.
The JCPOA promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program, but since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the deal unilaterally in 2018, Iran has been slowly violating the deal’s restrictions.
With the violations, Tehran has said it hopes to put pressure on the other nations involved to increase economic incentives to make up for hard-hitting sanctions imposed by Washington after the American withdrawal.
In a second report issued Tuesday, the IAEA said it had identified three locations in Iran where the country possibly stored undeclared nuclear material or undertook nuclear-related activities without declaring it to international observers. It said it had sent questions to Iran in three separate letters, but Tehran maintained it wasn’t obliged to respond. The IAEA asked for access to two of the sites, but was denied. The activities at all three sites are thought to have been from the early 2000s.
According to the Washington-based Arms Control Association, Iran would need roughly 1,050 kilograms (1.16 tons) of low-enriched uranium — under 5% purity — and would then need to enrich it further to weapons-grade, or more than 90% purity, for a weapon.
With the nuclear deal in place, Iran’s so-called breakout time — the period Tehran would need to build a bomb if it chose — stood about a year. As Iran has stepped away from the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal, it slowly has narrowed that window. However, that doesn’t mean that Iran would immediately rush toward a bomb if all materials were in place.