Iran has continued to expand its stockpile of highly enriched uranium that could be used to make nuclear weapons, according to the UN’s nuclear watchdog, in violation of a 2015 agreement with Western powers meant to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme.
In a confidential quarterly report released Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) notified member states that Iran’s unwillingness to let inspectors access IAEA monitoring equipment has gravely harmed its verification and monitoring work since February.
The Vienna-based agency told members that its confidence in properly assessing Iran’s actions — what it called the continuity of knowledge — was eroding over time and would continue to do so “unless Iran swiftly rectifies the situation.”
Certain monitoring and surveillance equipment, according to the IAEA, cannot be left unattended for more than three months without being serviced. The agency was given access to four surveillance cameras installed at one location earlier this month, but one of the cameras had been destroyed and a second had been seriously damaged, according to the agency.
According to News18, its director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, said he was eager to travel to Iran to meet with the newly elected government for talks.
Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to up to 60% fissile purity is now estimated at 10 kilogrammes, up from 62.8 kilogrammes three months ago, according to the agency. Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to up to 20% fissile purity is now estimated at 84.3 kilogrammes, up from 62.8 kilogrammes three months ago.
Iran’s total uranium stockpile was estimated to be 2441.3 kilogrammes as of August 30, down from 3241 kilogrammes on May 22, according to the agency.
Under then-President Donald Trump, the US unilaterally walked out of the nuclear deal in 2018, but Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia have worked to keep the agreement alive.
Tehran’s tactic of purposely breaking the deal is considered as an attempt to exert pressure on Europe, in particular, to provide it with incentives to offset the punishing American sanctions that were re-imposed after the US withdrawal.
President Joe Biden has stated that he is willing to rejoin the agreement. In June, the most recent round of talks in Vienna came to a close without a clear outcome.