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UN nuclear watchdog: Iran further increasing stockpile of highly enriched uranium

In this June 6, 2018 frame grab from the Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, three versions of domestically-built centrifuges are shown in a live TV program from Natanz, an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, in Iran (IRIB via AP)
In this June 6, 2018 frame grab from the Islamic Republic Iran Broadcasting, IRIB, state-run TV, three versions of domestically-built centrifuges are shown in a live TV program from Natanz, an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, in Iran (IRIB via AP)

The UN atomic watchdog says it believes that Iran has further increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium and criticized Tehran for continuing to bar the agency’s officials from accessing or monitoring Iranian nuclear sites.

In its quarterly report, the International Atomic Energy Agency says that according to its assessment, as of Oct. 22, Iran has an estimated 62.3 kilograms (137.3 pounds) of uranium enriched to up to 60% fissile purity. That amounts to an increase of 6.7 kilograms since the IAEA’s last report in September.

That enrichment to 60% purity is one short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%. Nonproliferation experts have warned in recent months that Iran now has enough 60%-enriched uranium to reprocess into fuel for at least one nuclear bomb.

The IAEA report, which was seen by The Associated Press, also estimates that as of Oct. 22, Iran’s stockpile of all enriched uranium was at 3673.7 kilograms — a decrease of 267.2 kilograms since the last quarterly report in September.

The Vienna-based IAEA says  it was unable to verify the exact size of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium due to limitations that Tehran imposed on UN inspectors last year and the removal of the agency’s monitoring and surveillance equipment in June at sites in Iran.

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