According to a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has reduced the rate at which it enriches uranium in recent months. However, the agency belonging to the United Nations indicates that reserves of this chemical element have increased, enriched by up to 60%, close to the 90% that is necessary for the manufacture of an atomic weapon. Simultaneously, Tehran continues not to cooperate with the IAEA to monitor its nuclear program.
Between last May and August, Iran slowed the production of enriched uranium by up to 60%. This is stated in a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), released this Monday, September 4.
Although it could be a signal to try to ease tensions after years of disputes between the Islamic Republic and the United States over this issue, the agency’s inspectors do not know the reasons behind the significant slowdown. “It could be a political or technical decision,” diplomatic sources in Vienna said.
The report also highlights that enriched uranium reserves continue to grow, although at a slower rate. According to IAEA data, Iran has 121.6 kilograms of this chemical element enriched up to 60%, while a report from last May placed these storages at around 114 kilograms. Until last February, he had 87.5 kilograms.
Iranian production of uranium enriched up to 60% has been reduced by around 3 kg per month, compared to the 9 kg it previously increased monthly, a senior diplomat stressed.
Although the UN nuclear watchdog emphasizes that this means that in recent months Iranian reserves are growing at their slowest rate since 2021, they do not stop increasing.
Experts emphasize that Uranium enriched to 60% purity is just a small technical step away from reaching 90%, a level needed to make an atomic weapon.
That level of enrichment is also well above the 20% produced before the historic nuclear deal reached in 2015 with six world powers, a pact currently suspended amid international efforts to resume it.
The authorities of the Islamic Republic continue to refute accusations that they pursue nuclear weapons and insist that their program has exclusively peaceful objectives.
But previously, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi had warned that Tehran has enough enriched uranium for “several” nuclear bombs if it decides to produce them.
Tehran will likely still need months to produce such a weapon. US intelligence agencies noted last March that Iran was not yet “conducting the key nuclear weapons development activities that would be necessary to produce a testable nuclear device.”
IAEA accuses Iran of not cooperating in monitoring its nuclear program
The International Atomic Energy Agency also highlights that the Islamic Republic continues not to collaborate in the surveillance activities that this organization must carry out on its uranium production and limits the activities of the IAEA.
There are still doubts about the traces of uranium that were found in undeclared sites in Iran.
“(IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi) regrets that there has been no progress in resolving outstanding safeguards issues in this reporting period,” the document said, referring to Iran’s inability to credibly explain the origin of uranium particles found in two undeclared mines.
The IAEA continues to have regular access to Iran’s declared nuclear facilities and its main nuclear activities, under long-standing agreements that predate the 2015 agreement.
However, the pact reached eight years ago added monitoring to areas such as the production of parts for centrifuges and machines that enrich uranium, but in June 2022, Iran turned off the 27 cameras that monitored compliance with the agreement, by which it was allowed developing atomic energy for civil use.
Although last March, as a result of a negotiation, the UN agency and Tehran announced that they were reactivating the surveillance cameras of several facilities, there are places, such as a nuclear production site in Isfahan, from which the agency does not have access to the images. that their cameras record, since they were not included in the agreement reached five months ago.
“The (IAEA) Director General reiterates that for the agency’s cameras to be effective, including those installed in Isfahan, the Agency needs access to the data they record,” the report added.
Iran blames stagnation in negotiations to reactivate 2015 nuclear deal
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Nasser Kanaani blamed Western countries involved in the deal for slowing its resumption.
“They have no real will to return to the agreement and fulfill their obligations,” said Kanaani, quoted by the state news agency IRNA.
Eight years ago, in an attempt to ensure that Iran could not develop atomic weapons, world powers reached an agreement with Tehran, led by the government of then US President Barack Obama.
Under the pact, the parties agreed to limit uranium enrichment to levels necessary for nuclear energy, in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions, and UN inspectors were tasked with monitoring the program.
But years later, in 2018, the then US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew his country from the agreement, claiming that he would negotiate a more solid agreement, something that did not happen. In response, Iran began violating the terms of the agreement a year later. So far, attempts to return to the pact once described as historic have been unsuccessful.
With Reuters, AP and EFE
Source: France 24