UN nuclear guard: Iran continues to increase nuclear stockpiles

The UN Nuclear Regulatory Authority believes that Iran has further increased its stockpiles of highly enriched uranium in violation of the 2015 agreement with world powers.

The International Atomic Energy Agency told member states in a confidential quarterly report on Wednesday that Iran has an estimated 17.7 kilograms of uranium enriched to 60 percent fission, an increase of nearly 8 kilograms since August.

Such highly enriched uranium can easily be processed into nuclear weapons, which is why the world powers have sought to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.

The Vienna-based agency told members it was still unable to secure Iran’s accurate stockpile of enriched uranium due to restrictions imposed by Tehran UN inspectors earlier this year.

The IAEA has not had access to surveillance material from Iran’s nuclear facilities or online enrichment monitors and electronic seals since February. The agency’s head, Rafael Mariano Grossi, told the Associated Press this month that the situation was like “flying heavily in a cloudy sky”.

In a separate report to member states on its work in Iran on Wednesday, the agency said Grossi was concerned that “security authorities will have to carry out overly invasive physical inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities.”

“He reiterates its call on Iran to take immediate action to remedy the situation and to implement security procedures at its nuclear facilities that are consistent with internationally accepted security practices and Iran’s legal obligations regarding the privileges and immunities of the Agency and its inspectors,” the IAEA said in a confidential quarterly report.

The agency said it “categorically rejects” the idea that its Iranian nuclear-powered cameras had played a role in a sabotage attack on a Karaj facility near Tehran in June. Iran blames Israel for the incident.

A senior diplomat who spoke anonymously to the Associated Press said the search of inspectors in Iran was very time consuming and some intimidated. The diplomat did not get a name when he spoke to the media.

Mohammadreza Ghayebi, the interim envoy of Iran’s UN delegation to Vienna, called on other IAEA member states to “refrain from making hasty or political comments.”

The state-run news agency IRNA quoted him as saying that Gross was expected to visit Tehran on Monday “to discuss the state of cooperation between the parties.”

High-ranking diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia plan to meet with the Iranian authorities in Vienna on 29 November to discuss the return of Tehran to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Action Plan. The agreement eased sanctions against Iran in return for curbing its nuclear program.

The United States withdrew from the agreement under former President Donald Trump and re-imposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to continue enriching uranium.

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