UN atomic agency says Iran nuclear stockpiles growing, but still within limits
search

UN atomic agency says Iran nuclear stockpiles growing, but still within limits

Tehran boosts production of low-enriched uranium and heavy water, inspectors say they still have unrestricted access to the sites

An Iranian technician walks through the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, February 3, 2007. (AP/Vahid Salemi)
An Iranian technician walks through the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan, Iran, February 3, 2007. (AP/Vahid Salemi)

VIENNA (AP) — The UN atomic watchdog said Friday Iran continues to stay within the limitations set by the nuclear deal reached in 2015 with major powers, though its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and heavy water are growing.

In a confidential quarterly report distributed to member states and seen by The Associated Press, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran has stayed within key limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

The deal is meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons in exchange for economic incentives. It has been complicated by the unilateral withdrawal of the United States last year and Washington’s increased sanctions, which has been taking a toll on the Iranian economy.

That has left the other signatories — Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China — struggling to come up with enough incentives to keep Iran in the deal.

Earlier this month, Iran announced that if a way couldn’t be found within 60 days to shield it from US sanctions targeting its economy and oil industry, it would increase its enrichment of uranium beyond the purity allowed under the JCPOA. And about a week ago, Iran said it had increased its uranium-enrichment production capacity, though only of the lower-enriched uranium permitted by the agreement.

In its first quarterly report since those announcements, however, the Vienna-based IAEA found Iran continued to be in compliance with the JCPOA and also said its inspectors had been given unfettered access to Iranian nuclear facilities.

IAEA inspectors at Iran’s nuclear power plant in Natanz on January 20, 2014. (IRNA/AFP Kazem Ghane)

“Timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access facilitates implementation of the additional protocol and enhances confidence,” the report stated, referring to the procedure detailing safeguards and tools for verification.

The IAEA said Iran’s heavy water stockpile was 125.2 metric tons (138 US tons) as of May 26, up from 124.8 tons in February but below the 130 ton limit. Its stock of low-enriched uranium was 174.1 kilograms (383.8 pounds) as of May 20, up from 163.8 kilograms in February; the limit is 202.8 kilograms.

It added that Iran had not enriched any uranium above the level allowed by the JCPOA.

“All centrifuges and associated infrastructure in storage have remained under continuous agency monitoring,” the IAEA said.

For decades since, Western nations have been concerned about Iran’s nuclear program, accusing Tehran of seeking atomic weapons. Iran long has said its program is for peaceful purposes, but it faced years of crippling sanctions.

The 2015 nuclear deal Iran struck with world powers, including the US under President Barack Obama, was aimed at relieving those fears.

US President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to tear up the nuclear deal, said he ultimately pulled America out of the accord over Iran’s ballistic missile program and its malign influence on the wider Mideast.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns constantly that Iran has never abandoned its ambition to achieve a nuclear weapons capability. Last year, the Mossad intelligence service spirited a huge haul of documents from what it said was Iran’s nuclear weapons archive, which Netanyahu said proved conclusively that Iran has lied to the world when claiming it has not been seeking to produce nuclear weapons.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech on an archive brought out of Iran by the Mossad that documents Iran’s nuclear program, at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on April 30, 2018. (AFP/Jack Guez)

Netanyahu said at the UN General Assembly in September that the reason Iran didn’t destroy its atomic archive and its atomic warehouse was because it hasn’t abandoned its goal to develop nuclear weapons. In fact, he said, “it planned to use both of these sites in a few years when the time would be right to break out to the atom bomb.”

Times of Israel Staff contributed to this report

read more:
less
comments
more