Iran begins producing enriched uranium metal

Iran informs the IAEA that it has begun the process of producing enriched uranium metal.

Elad Benari ,

Iran nuclear program
Iran nuclear program
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Iran has begun the process of producing enriched uranium metal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

"Today, Iran informed the Agency that UO2 (uranium oxide) enriched up to 20% U–235 would be shipped to the R&D laboratory at the Fuel Fabrication Plant in Esfahan, where it would be converted to UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) and then to uranium metal enriched to 20% U–235, before using it to manufacture the fuel," an IAEA statement said.

A confidential IAEA report seen by Reuters said the agency had confirmed that Iran had taken the second of the four steps described, making clear it has begun the process.

Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal it signed with world powers in response to former US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

In April, the Islamic Republic announced it would begin enriching uranium to 60% purity, a move that would take the uranium much closer to the 90% suitable for a nuclear bomb.

Last month, Iran announced it has already produced 6.5 kg (14 lb) of uranium enriched to up to 60%.

These moves come even as Iran has been holding indirect talks with the US in Vienna on resuming compliance with the 2015 deal.

Britain, France and Germany said on Tuesday they had "grave concern" about Iran's decision.

"Iran has no credible civilian need for uranium metal R&D and production, which are a key step in the development of a nuclear weapon," they said in a joint statement issued by Britain's foreign ministry and quoted by Reuters.

"With its latest steps, Iran is threatening a successful outcome to the Vienna talks despite the progress achieved in six rounds of negotiations," they said, and urged Iran to return to the talks.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Washington was not setting a deadline for the talks but noted "that as time proceeds Iran's nuclear advances will have a bearing on our view of returning to the JCPOA."

Price added that the US found it "worrying" that Iran was continuing to violate the agreement "especially with experiments that have value for nuclear weapons research."



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