Iran further increases its stockpile of uranium enriched to near weapons-grade levels

iran further increases its stockpile of uranium enriched to near weapons-grade levels

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General, Rafael Grossi, addresses the media after arriving at the Vienna International Airport in Schwechat, Austria, Tuesday, May 7, 2024. The head of the United Nations' atomic watchdog traveled Monday to Iran, where his agency faces increasing difficulty in monitoring the Islamic Republic's rapidly advancing nuclear program as tensions remain high in the wider Middle East over the Israel-Hamas war. (AP Photo/Heinz-Peter Bader)

VIENNA (AP) — Iran has further increased its stockpile of uranium enriched to near weapons-grade levels, according to a confidential report on Monday by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the latest in Tehran's attempts to steadily exert pressure on the international community.

Iran is seeking to get economic sanctions imposed over it's controversial nuclear program lifted in exchange for slowing it down. This is all under the guidance of Iran’s supreme leader and likely won’t change after last week's helicopter crash that killed Iran's president and foreign minister.

The report, seen by The Associated Press, said Iran now has 142.1 kilograms (313.2 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 60% — an increase of 20.6 kilograms (45.4 pounds) since the last report by the watchdog in February. Uranium enriched at 60% purity is just a short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.

iran further increases its stockpile of uranium enriched to near weapons-grade levels

This is a locator map for Iran with its capital, Tehran. (AP Photo)

According to the report, Iran’s overall stockpile of enriched uranium at the current moment stands at 6201.3 kilograms (13671.5 pounds), which represents an increase of 675.8 kilograms (1489.8 pounds) since the last report by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

According to the IAEA’s definition, around 42 kilograms (92.5 pounds) of uranium enriched to 60% is the amount at which creating one atomic weapon is theoretically possible — if the material is enriched further to weapons-grade levels of 90%.

Iran has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful, but the IAEA chief, Rafael Mariano Grossi, has already warned that Tehran has enough uranium enriched to near-weapons-grade levels to make “several” nuclear bombs if it chose to do so. He has acknowledged the agency cannot guarantee that none of Iran’s centrifuges may have been peeled away for clandestine enrichment.

iran further increases its stockpile of uranium enriched to near weapons-grade levels

FILE - Head of Iran's atomic energy department Mohammad Eslami waves to media at the conclusion of his joint press conference with International Atomic Energy Organization, IAEA, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, left, after their meeting in the central city of Isfahan, Iran, on May 7, 2024. While Iran's nuclear program stands at the precipice of tipping over into enriching uranium at weapons-grade levels, Tehran has held quiet, indirect talks with the United States and invited the head of the United Nations' atomic watchdog into the country for negotiations. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

Grossi has acknowledged the agency cannot guarantee that none of Iran’s centrifuges may have been peeled away for clandestine enrichment.

Tensions have grown between Iran and the IAEA since 2018, when then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers. Since then, Iran has abandoned all limits the deal put on its program and quickly stepped up enrichment.

Under the original nuclear deal with world powers, Iran was allowed to enrich uranium only up to 3.67% purity, maintain a stockpile of about 300 kilograms and use only very basic IR-1 centrifuges — machines that spin uranium gas at high speed for enrichment purposes.

In an effort to ensure Iran could not develop atomic weapons, world powers struck a deal with Tehran in 2015 under which it agreed to limit enrichment of uranium to levels necessary for nuclear power in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. U.N. inspectors were tasked with monitoring the program.

The latest IAEA report also said that Tehran has not reconsidered its September 2023 decision to bar nuclear inspectors from monitoring its nuclear program and added that it expects Iran “to do so in the context of the ongoing consultations between the (IAEA) agency and Iran.”

According to the report, Grossi “deeply regrets” Iran's decision to bar inspectors — a reversal of that decision “remains essential to fully allow the agency to conduct its verification activities in Iran effectively.”

The IAEA report also said that the deaths of Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian have triggered a pause in the IAEA's talks with Tehran over improving cooperation.

Iran has suggested that discussions related to the cooperation between the IAEA and Iran “be continued in Tehran ‘on an appropriate date that will be mutually agreed upon’,” the report said.

Iran and the IAEA are still negotiating over how to implement a deal struck last year to expand inspections of the Islamic Republic’s rapidly advancing atomic program.

The latest report also said Iran has still not provided answers to the IAEA's years-long investigation about the origin and current location of manmade uranium particles found at two locations that Tehran has failed to declare as potential nuclear sites, Varamin and Turquzabad.

The report said that the IAEA’s request needed to be resolved otherwise the the agency “will not be able to confirm the correctness an completeness of Iran’s declarations" under the deal.

The report also said there was no progress so far in reinstalling more monitoring equipment, including cameras, removed in June 2022. Since then, the only recorded data is that of IAEA cameras installed at a centrifuge workshop in the city of Isfahan in May 2023 — although Iran has not provided the IAEA with access to this data.

The IAEA stated that on May 21, IAEA inspectors after a delay in April “successfully serviced the cameras at the workshops in Isfahan and the data they had collected since late December 2023 were placed under separate Agency seals and Iranians seals at the locations.”

OTHER NEWS

6 hrs ago

A first aider in every home

6 hrs ago

Join hands to champion rakyat’s welfare, Zahid tells leaders

6 hrs ago

Arye Deri and his party threaten Israeli democracy

6 hrs ago

‘Thelma' reviews: June Squibb is a ‘powerful force' and unlikely action hero in absolute ‘gem of a movie'

7 hrs ago

Over 3,000 personnel deployed to prevent profiteering

7 hrs ago

A Romanian village is set to become Nato's biggest airbase in Europe

7 hrs ago

India exam chief sacked after outcry over marks

7 hrs ago

Sainz: Bouncing in high-speed corners has been "killing" Ferrari

7 hrs ago

How Dr M got it wrong on Batu Puteh

7 hrs ago

Diesel fuels prices of goods

7 hrs ago

Why 49ers hold leverage in Brandon Aiyuk contract talks

7 hrs ago

Rookie Lions running back was viewed as safety by every other team in NFL

7 hrs ago

PKR, PN leaders lock horns on degrees and politicians

7 hrs ago

2024 Copa América, Matchday 3: Match thread and discussion

7 hrs ago

'The Boys' Showrunner Took a Cue From 'SNL' Star Cecily Strong for Starlight's Abortion Storyline

7 hrs ago

When and where will Game 7 be played? Location, schedule and more for Oilers vs. Panthers in Stanley Cup Final

7 hrs ago

Malaysia boosts Global Seed Vault with 207 rice varieties to protect agricultural biodiversity

7 hrs ago

PBB leader sees ill intentions in Sarawak PKR’s election plans

8 hrs ago

No split in Sabah Umno, says Zahid

8 hrs ago

Cubs activate key reliever from paternity list; is he Chicago's next closer?

8 hrs ago

Nothing More Returns to No. 1 on Mainstream Rock Airplay Chart With ‘If It Doesn't Hurt'

8 hrs ago

Jesús Luzardo injury update: Top trade candidate lands on IL, may not return ahead of deadline

9 hrs ago

Struggling Cubs infielder launches Chicago's longest home run of season

9 hrs ago

‘Thelma' Director Got Blessing of Tom Cruise (and His Own Grandma) for June Squibb Action-Comedy

9 hrs ago

Indianapolis Colts: 4 players whose jobs are in jeopardy in 2024

9 hrs ago

Brittney Spencer Brings Baltimore Blues and Nashville Notes to NPR Tiny Desk Debut

9 hrs ago

Grant Cardone: These Are the 2 Biggest Misconceptions About Retirement

9 hrs ago

Warriors have not offered Klay Thompson a contract and he has no traction with Magic either, per report

9 hrs ago

Thousands join march for an independent Wales

9 hrs ago

New children's care home given go-ahead

10 hrs ago

Titans QB Will Levis details his progress from last season

10 hrs ago

Raiders' Christian Wilkins not resting on his laurels ahead of 2024

10 hrs ago

Everything We Know About 'Bridgerton' Season 4 So Far

10 hrs ago

8 Popular Companies That Went Bankrupt in 2024

10 hrs ago

Seahawks running back unit ranked No. 14 in NFL by PFF

10 hrs ago

‘All of the rats in the Knesset’: Mass antiwar protest in Israel

10 hrs ago

Eastern Michigan names stadium after Raiders DE and his wife following major donation

10 hrs ago

Cameron Young threatens 58, scores 11-under 59 in Travelers Championship

10 hrs ago

Panthers vs. Oilers final score, results: Stuart Skinner, Edmonton defense force Game 7 in Stanley Cup Final

10 hrs ago

Cardinals’ never-ending Steven Matz injury saga takes another frustrating turn