Iran enriched uranium stockpile almost eight times 2015 limit: UN

IAEA also expresses 'serious concern' at Iran's failure to provide access to two sites for months.

    The IAEA reported that Iran has been enriching uranium to a purity of 4.5 percent, higher than the 3.67 percent allowed under the JCPOA [Ronald Zak/AP]
    The IAEA reported that Iran has been enriching uranium to a purity of 4.5 percent, higher than the 3.67 percent allowed under the JCPOA [Ronald Zak/AP]

    Iran has continued enriching uranium beyond limits set in the 2015 nuclear deal it signed with world powers, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog has reported.

    The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has been in jeopardy ever since the United States unilaterally withdrew in 2018, set a limit of 300kg (661 pounds) of enriched uranium in a particular compound form, which is the equivalent of 202.8kg (447 pounds) of uranium.

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    In comparison to the latter number, the stockpile stood at 1,571.6kg (3,465 pounds) on May 20, at nearly eight times the limit, according to a confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) distributed to member countries and seen by the AFP news agency on Friday.

    The IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of 4.5 percent, higher than the 3.67 percent allowed under the JCPOA. It is also above the pact's limitations on heavy water.

    The 2015 nuclear deal, which was also signed by Germany, France, the United Kingdom, China and Russia, promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear programme.

    Since President Donald Trump pulled the US out of the deal and reimposed crippling economic sanctions against the Iranian economy as part of a "maximum pressure" campaign, Tehran has been scaling back its compliance with the accord.

    The ultimate goal of the JCPOA is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb - something that Tehran says it does not want to do.

    'Serious concern'

    The UN's nuclear watchdog also expressed "serious concern" on Friday at Iran's failure to provide access to two sites it wants to visit in relation to possible undeclared material and activities.

    The IAEA noted "with serious concern that, for over four months, Iran has denied access to Agency ... to two locations", according to the report.

    The IAEA issued a report in March admonishing Iran for failing to answer its questions about past nuclear activities at three sites and for denying it access to two of them.

    Diplomats have since said the agency is looking into activities at the sites that predate its 2015 deal with major powers.

    A report to IAEA member states issued on Tuesday detailed suspected activities and materials including "the possible presence ... of natural uranium in the form of a metal disc" at a site that "underwent extensive sanitization and levelling in 2003 and 2004", the report said, describing the third site.

    "The [IAEA] director general calls on Iran immediately to cooperate fully with the agency, including by providing prompt access to the locations specified," the IAEA report said.

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    SOURCE: News agencies