Vienna International Centre, where IAEA offices are located
Vienna International Centre, where IAEA offices are locatediStock

Iran has made progress in its work on enriched uranium metal, the UN nuclear watchdog said in a report to member states on Monday seen by Reuters.

"On 14 August 2021, the Agency verified ... that Iran had used 257 g of uranium enriched up to 20% U-235 in the form of UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) to produce 200 g of uranium metal enriched up to 20% U-235," the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said.

The report noted that this was step three in a four-step plan by Iran. The fourth includes producing a reactor fuel plate, it added.

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.

In a report last month, the IAEA said Iran has begun the process of producing enriched uranium metal.

While Iran has scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal, it has been holding indirect talks with the Biden administration on a return to the agreement.

However, Iran recently paused the talks and announced they will not resume before the new government takes office.

The new government is headed by hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, who was sworn in as president of Iran earlier this month and vowed to bring an end to US sanctions on the Islamic Republic, denouncing the sanctions as “illegal”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said recently that nuclear talks with Iran "cannot go on indefinitely" but that Washington was "fully prepared" to continue negotiations.

"We're committed to diplomacy, but this process cannot go on indefinitely... we look to see what Iran is ready to do or not ready to do and remain fully prepared to return to Vienna to continue negotiations," he stated.

His remarks were echoed by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who said that Iran is "delaying" talks to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal and warned that the option to revive the deal would not remain open forever.