Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Watchdog: Iran Increases Near Weapons-Grade Uranium Stockpile
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 2 weeks ago on
May 28, 2024

Iran has significantly increased its uranium stockpile enriched to near weapons-grade levels, raising international concerns amid ongoing regional tensions and reduced IAEA oversight. (AP/Heinz-Peter Bader)

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

VIENNA — 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 Seeks Lessened Economic Sanctions

Iran is seeking to have economic sanctions imposed over the country’s controversial nuclear program lifted in exchange for slowing the program down. The program — as all matters of state in Iran — are under the guidance of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and that likely won’t change in the wake of last week’s helicopter crash that killed Iran’s president and foreign minister.

The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency also comes against the backdrop of heightened tensions in the wider Middle East over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Israel and Iran have carried out direct strikes on each other’s territory for the first time last month.

The report, seen by The Associated Press, said that as of May 11, Iran 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 U.N. watchdog in February. Uranium enriched at 60% purity is just a short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.

By 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 90%.

Also as of May 11, the report says Iran’s overall stockpile of enriched uranium stands at 6,201.3 kilograms (1,3671.5 pounds), which represents an increase of 675.8 kilograms (1,489.8 pounds) since the IAEA’s previous report.

Iran Maintains Nuclear Program

Iran has maintained its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but the IAEA chief, Rafael Mariano Grossi, has previously 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 U.N. 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, struck in 2015, 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.

The 2015 deal saw Tehran agree to limit enrichment of uranium to levels necessary for generating nuclear power in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. At the time, U.N. inspectors were tasked with monitoring the program.

Monday’s report also said that Tehran has not reconsidered its September 2023 decision to bar IAEA inspectors from further 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 — and a reversal of that decision “remains essential to fully allow the agency to conduct its verification activities in Iran effectively.”

Death of Iran Officials Cause Pause in IAEA Talks

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, the report acknowledged.

Before the May 19 helicopter crash, Iran had agreed to hold technical negotiations with IAEA on May 20, following a visit by Grossi earlier in the month. But those meetings fell apart due to the crash. Iran then sent a letter on May 21, saying its nuclear team wants to continue discussions in Tehran “on an appropriate date that will be mutually agreed upon,” the report said.

The 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.

It said the IAEA’s request need to be resolved, otherwise the the agency “will not be able to confirm the correctness an completeness of Iran’s declarations” under a safeguards agreement between Tehran and the nuclear watchdog.

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 said 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.”

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Fresno Police Chief Balderrama on Paid Leave, City Manager Says

DON'T MISS

Konstadinos T. Moros Discusses Gov. Newsom’s Proposed Firearms Amendment on Unfiltered

DON'T MISS

US Inflation Eases in May, Indicating Potential Relief from Price Pressures

DON'T MISS

Over 200 Rockets Launched from Lebanon Following Israeli Strike on Hezbollah Commander

DON'T MISS

Rep. Costa Blasts GOP House For Holding AG Merrick Garland in Contempt

DON'T MISS

Is California’s $20 Minimum Wage to Blame for Loss of 10,000 Fast-Food Jobs?

DON'T MISS

Balderrama: ‘I Plan on Leading This Police Department to Even Greater Heights’

DON'T MISS

Wired Wednesday: Clovis Raises Water Development Fee by 105%. Impact on Homebuyers?

DON'T MISS

As Californians’ Stance on Crime Hardens, Republicans Try to Regain Relevance

DON'T MISS

Lawsuit Claims Valley Children’s Paid On-Call Employees Less Than Minimum Wage

UP NEXT

US Inflation Eases in May, Indicating Potential Relief from Price Pressures

UP NEXT

Over 200 Rockets Launched from Lebanon Following Israeli Strike on Hezbollah Commander

UP NEXT

Rep. Costa Blasts GOP House For Holding AG Merrick Garland in Contempt

UP NEXT

Is California’s $20 Minimum Wage to Blame for Loss of 10,000 Fast-Food Jobs?

UP NEXT

Balderrama: ‘I Plan on Leading This Police Department to Even Greater Heights’

UP NEXT

Wired Wednesday: Clovis Raises Water Development Fee by 105%. Impact on Homebuyers?

UP NEXT

As Californians’ Stance on Crime Hardens, Republicans Try to Regain Relevance

UP NEXT

Lawsuit Claims Valley Children’s Paid On-Call Employees Less Than Minimum Wage

UP NEXT

Edison High Murals Will Stay After Student Survey Says ‘Keep Them’

UP NEXT

Over 1.5 Million Foreign Pilgrims Flock to Mecca for Annual Hajj

Over 200 Rockets Launched from Lebanon Following Israeli Strike on Hezbollah Commander

3 hours ago

Rep. Costa Blasts GOP House For Holding AG Merrick Garland in Contempt

4 hours ago

Is California’s $20 Minimum Wage to Blame for Loss of 10,000 Fast-Food Jobs?

5 hours ago

Balderrama: ‘I Plan on Leading This Police Department to Even Greater Heights’

5 hours ago

Wired Wednesday: Clovis Raises Water Development Fee by 105%. Impact on Homebuyers?

6 hours ago

As Californians’ Stance on Crime Hardens, Republicans Try to Regain Relevance

6 hours ago

Lawsuit Claims Valley Children’s Paid On-Call Employees Less Than Minimum Wage

Edison High Murals Will Stay After Student Survey Says ‘Keep Them’

6 hours ago

Over 1.5 Million Foreign Pilgrims Flock to Mecca for Annual Hajj

7 hours ago

Southern Baptists Narrowly Reject Formal Ban on Churches with Female Pastors

7 hours ago

Fresno Police Chief Balderrama on Paid Leave, City Manager Says

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama is now on paid leave as of Wednesday afternoon, City Manager Georgeanne White said in an email to police...

Fresno Police Chief Balderrama on Paid Leave, City Manager Says

2 hours ago

Konstadinos T. Moros Discusses Gov. Newsom’s Proposed Firearms Amendment on Unfiltered

3 hours ago

US Inflation Eases in May, Indicating Potential Relief from Price Pressures

3 hours ago

Over 200 Rockets Launched from Lebanon Following Israeli Strike on Hezbollah Commander

4 hours ago

Rep. Costa Blasts GOP House For Holding AG Merrick Garland in Contempt

5 hours ago

Is California’s $20 Minimum Wage to Blame for Loss of 10,000 Fast-Food Jobs?

5 hours ago

Balderrama: ‘I Plan on Leading This Police Department to Even Greater Heights’

6 hours ago

Wired Wednesday: Clovis Raises Water Development Fee by 105%. Impact on Homebuyers?

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend