IAEA Says Iran Reduced its Nuclear Stockpile by 80%
Iran has sharply cut its most sensitive nuclear stockpile under an interim pact with world powers and has begun engaging with an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigation into suspected weapons research, the UN nuclear agency said on Friday, according to Reuters.
The IAEA, which is tasked with verifying that Iran is living up to its part of an interim six-month deal reached in November with six world powers, made clear in its latest report that Iran so far is undertaking the agreed steps to curb its nuclear program.
Under the agreement that took effect on January 20, Iran halted some aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for a limited easing of international sanctions that have crippled its economy.
The IAEA report showed that Iran since January had acted to reduce its stockpile of higher-grade enriched uranium gas - a relatively short technical step away from weapons-grade material - by more than 80 percent.
The amount that remains after most of the material was either converted or diluted to less proliferation-prone forms - less than 40 kg - is far below the 250 kg which experts say is needed for one nuclear bomb, according to Reuters.
On another closely watched aspect of Iran's nuclear program, the IAEA report said Iran at a meeting in Tehran this week had shown the UN agency information that a fast-functioning detonator was tested for a civilian application.
The IAEA, which for years has been trying to investigate allegations that Iran may have worked on designing a nuclear bomb, had asked Tehran for explanations about the so-called Exploding Bridge Wire (EBW) detonators as part of its probe.
"This is the first time that Iran has engaged in a technical exchange with the agency on this or any other of the outstanding issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program since 2008," the report said.
"The agency's assessment of the information provided by Iran is ongoing."
The IAEA probe is ongoing parallel to talks between Iran and the six world powers on turning the interim deal into a longstanding one.
The latest round of talks in Vienna last week ended with no tangible progress, with time running out to clinch a deal by the agreed deadline of July 20.
Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Sunday that clinching a final nuclear deal with world powers is still "possible" despite the latest tough round of talks.
"Agreement is possible. But illusions need to go. Opportunity shouldn't be missed again like in 2005," Zarif wrpote on Twitter, referring to Iran's long-stalled dispute with world powers over its suspect nuclear program.
Throughout the negotiation process, Iran has insisted that it will not give up on what it says is its right to enrich uranium.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)