Iran nuclear chief says uranium stockpile has doubled to 950 tons
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Regime says it has also built new centrifuge rotor factor

Iran nuclear chief says uranium stockpile has doubled to 950 tons

Ali Akbar Salehi says his country has enough nuclear material to reach its longtime goal of running 190,000 enrichment centrifuges

Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi talks at a conference on international cooperation for enhancing nuclear safety, security, safeguards and non-profileration, at the Lincei Academy, in Rome, October 10, 2017. (AP/Gregorio Borgia)
Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi talks at a conference on international cooperation for enhancing nuclear safety, security, safeguards and non-profileration, at the Lincei Academy, in Rome, October 10, 2017. (AP/Gregorio Borgia)

The chief of Iran’s nuclear agency said on Wednesday that his country’s effort to acquire uranium has resulted in a stockpile of as much as 950 tons.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, told state TV that Iran had imported some 400 tons of uranium since the landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Western powers, bringing its stockpile to between 900 and 950 tons — up from 500 tons.

Salehi said that would be enough of the material for Iran to reach its longtime goal of running 190,000 centrifuge machines for enriching uranium in the future.

Salehi also said that the country has constructed a new factory to build rotor blades for centrifuges, with a capacity to manufacture rotors for up to 60 IR-6 centrifuges per day, Reuters reported.

Iranian technicians work at a facility producing uranium fuel for a planned heavy-water nuclear reactor, outside Isfahan, 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, in 2009. (photo credit: AP/Vahid Salemi)
Iranian technicians working at a facility producing uranium fuel for a planned heavy water nuclear reactor, outside Isfahan, in 2009. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

Salehi insisted that the factory did not break the terms of the nuclear agreement.

“Instead of building this factory in the next seven or eight years, we built it during the negotiations but did not start it,” Salehi said, according to Reuters.

“Of course, the [Supreme Leader] was completely informed and we gave him the necessary information at the time. And now that he has given the order this factory has started all of its work.”

The nuclear accord limits Iran’s uranium enrichment to 3.67 percent, enough to use in a nuclear power plant but far lower than the 90% needed for an atomic weapon.

Screen capture from video showing Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s nuclear agency, right, and three Iranian produced uranium enrichment centrifuges in the center background. (YouTube)

However, since the US pulled out of the deal in May, Iran has vowed to boost enrichment capacity to put pressure on the remaining signatories to live up to the agreement.

In a video clip aired Tuesday by Israeli television, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that Israel was responsible for Trump’s decision to quit the Iran nuclear deal.

The prime minister, who has long railed against the pact, gave a dramatic presentation a little over a week before Trump’s May 8 decision, where he unveiled documents Israel secreted away from Tehran that he said proved “Iran lied” about its nuclear program.

In his announcement, the US president said the accord would not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear arms and he therefore was exiting the agreement and reimposing sanctions.

Trump’s decision was sharply opposed by Iran and the deal’s other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China. Those countries are currently working to preserve the accord following the US pullout.

Israel considers Iran its arch-enemy, citing Iran’s calls for Israel’s destruction, support for terrorist groups across the region, and growing military activity in neighboring Syria. Israel has warned that it will not allow Iran, whose troops are backing Syrian President Bashar Assad, to establish a permanent military presence in Syria.

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