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

Iran has increased the rate at which it is producing near weapons grade uranium in recent weeks, reversing a previous slowdown that started in the middle of this year, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a new report on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.

Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in the report that Iran “in recent weeks had increased its production of highly enriched uranium, reversing a previous output reduction from mid-2023.”

Iran had previously slowed down the rate at which it was enriching uranium to 60% purity. Uranium enriched at 60% purity is just a short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.

The IAEA said in its report that inspectors had verified the increased rate of production since the end of November at facilities in Natanz and Fordow to about 9 kilograms per month, up from 3 kilograms per month since June.

An IAEA report released in mid-November found that Iran has enough uranium enriched to up to 60% purity, close to weapons-grade, for three atom bombs.

A second report released at the same time found there has been no progress on the IAEA investigation into uranium traces found at several undeclared sites in Iran.

Iran a few months ago escalated the conflict with the IAEA by withdrawing accreditation from several top UN nuclear watchdog inspectors.

A standoff between Iran and the West, over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, continues.

Iran has scaled back its compliance with the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in response to former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018.

The Biden administration sought to return to the deal and held indirect talks with Iran on a return to compliance, but the negotiations reached a stalemate last September, after Iran submitted a response to a European Union proposal to revive the deal.

A US official later said that the efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have “hit a wall” because of Iran's insistence on the closure of the UN nuclear watchdog's investigations.