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Iran Continues Uranium Enrichment as UN Talks Stall

May 28, 2024
2 min read
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi traveled to Iran this month for talks with Iranian officials aimed at improving cooperation and IAEA monitoring in Iran
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi traveled to Iran this month for talks with Iranian officials aimed at improving cooperation and IAEA monitoring in Iran

The Islamic Republic is continuing to enrich uranium to near weapons-grade after United Nations talks have stalled, the UN's nuclear watchdog has warned.

Iran's stock of uranium enriched up to 60 percent purity, close to the roughly 90 percent of weapons-grade, and grew by 20.6 kg over the quarter to 142.1 kg as of May 11. Iran later diluted 5.9 kg to a lower enrichment level, according to Reuters.

That means Iran now has roughly enough material enriched up to 60 percent purity, if enriched further, for three nuclear weapons in theory, according to the yardstick of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Western nations have long argued that Iran has no credible civilian need for such highly enriched uranium.

Iran, however, maintains that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

The reports also highlight the lack of progress in talks aimed at improving cooperation between Iran and the IAEA.

A joint statement signed in March 2023 has seen no movement, and follow-up discussions were further stalled by the recent death of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

The IAEA Director General has urged the new Iranian government to resume the high-level dialogue and technical exchanges aimed at resolving outstanding issues.

"There has been no progress in the past year towards implementing the Joint Statement of 4 March 2023," one of the two reports to member states, both of which were seen by Reuters, said.

IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi traveled to Iran this month for talks with Iranian officials aimed at improving cooperation and IAEA monitoring in Iran.

"The Director General reiterates to the new government of Iran his call for, and disposition to continue with, the high-level dialogue and ensuing technical exchanges commenced ... on 6-7 May 2024," the report added.

It has been 18 months since the IAEA's 35-nation Board of Governors last passed a resolution against Iran, ordering it to cooperate urgently with a years-long IAEA investigation into uranium particles found at three undeclared sites.

While the number of sites has since been reduced to two, Iran has still not explained how the traces got there.

"The Director General regrets that the outstanding safeguards issues have not been resolved," the report said, referring to those traces.

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