IAEA: Iran expanding stockpile of near-weapons grade uranium

IAEA: Iran expanding stockpile of near-weapons grade uranium

Iran’s stockpile of 60%-enriched uranium has increased by 20.6 kilograms (45.5 pounds) since February, AFP reported on Monday, citing a new confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The document, which was also seen by the Associated Press, revealed that Tehran has accumulated 142.1 kilograms (313.2 pounds) of uranium enriched up to 60%. This level of enrichment is just a technical step from 90% enrichment, considered weapons grade.

According to the IAEA definition, it is technically possible to create an atomic bomb with roughly 42 kilograms (92.5 pounds) of uranium enriched to 60% if the material is enriched to 90%.

Iran has continued to ramp up enrichment, while maintaining that its nuclear program is strictly peaceful.

However, Western powers claim there is no credible civilian explanation for Tehran’s nuclear activities. In 2022, the IAEA issued a report saying it could not “provide assurances that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively peaceful.”

According to the IAEA, Iran’s total stockpile of enriched uranium now stands at 6,201.3 kilograms (13,671.5 pounds)—a 675.8 kilogram (1,489.8 pound) increase in three months.

Following meetings with officials in Iran earlier this month, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi told reporters that Tehran’s cooperation with the organization has been “completely unsatisfactory” in recent months and urged the country to adopt “concrete” measures to address concerns.

There have also been recent Iranian threats of a push towards the bomb. On May 9, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said Tehran will weaponize its nuclear program if Israel “threatens its existence.”

Two weeks ago, a lawmaker close to the regime suggested that the country might already possess an atomic bomb, saying, “In my opinion, we have achieved nuclear weapons, but we do not announce it.”

Washington is frustrating European efforts to introduce a resolution against the Iranian regime at the IAEA, Reuters reported on Friday.

A senior European diplomat claimed that the United States is having “difficulty” moving ahead with the resolution ahead of the 35-nation Board of Governors’ quarterly meeting scheduled to take place in Vienna on June 3.

The diplomat added that “in our conversations we continue to do everything to convince them.”

The Wall Street Journal cited diplomatic sources as saying on Monday that the Biden administration has pressed a number of other countries to abstain in a censure vote, saying that is what Washington will do.

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