IAEA: Iran moving away from international agreement

A view of the reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 1200 Km south of Tehran.
A view of the reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran, 1200 Km south of Tehran.

Vienna - Tehran gives nuclear watchdog notice of escalating uranium metal work


Published: Tue 6 Jul 2021, 10:55 PM

Iran intends to produce uranium metal enriched to 20 per cent, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported Tuesday, as talks designed to keep its nuclear programme non-military appeared to stall.

This latest move by Iran takes it a step closer to developing materials that could be used to make a nuclear weapon, although the government insists that this is not its intention.

An IAEA statement said Tehran had told the agency that it would be sending the enriched uranium to its research and development laboratory at the fuel fabrication plant in Esfahan.

The aim would be to make fuel for a research reactor, the agency added.

Tehran has gradually moved away from the terms of the 2015 deal it signed with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, since the then US President Donald Trump pulled the US out in 2018.

The purpose of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was to ensure Iran’s nuclear programme remained civilian only and did not move towards military uses.

IAEA chief Rafael Grossi reported the latest developments to the agency’s member states as talks to bring the United States back into the JCPOA appeared deadlocked.

The talks in Vienna to try to revive the JCPOA, which began in April, have not moved forward in recent weeks.

With Ebrahim Raisi, a new, hardline president, due to take office in Iran on August 3, it is not clear what will happen when they do.

Under the JCPOA, Western sanctions against Iran were eased in return for a commitment to cut back its nuclear programme and commit to keeping it civilian-only and to agree to UN monitoring.

Since Trump pulled the US out of the deal, Iran has put more obstacles in the way of UN inspectors. The agency’s deputy director general is due to travel to Iran next week.

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