Iran’s nuclear enrichment activity remains ‘high,’ IAEA warns

by Julia Payne

BRUSSELS, Feb 19 (Reuters) – Iran continues to enrich uranium well beyond the needs for civilian nuclear use despite U.N. pressure to stop it, the head of Iran said on Monday. IAEA, Rafael Grossi.

Speaking to Reuters after briefing European Union (EU) foreign ministers on the matter, Rafael Grossi said that while the pace of uranium enrichment had slowed slightly since the end of the last year, Iran continued to produce around seven kilograms (kg) per month of 60% enriched uranium.

This highly enriched uranium, close to the 90% threshold required to make a nuclear bomb, is not necessary for use for civilian purposes.

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Rafael Grossi said he wanted to go to Tehran next month, for the first time in a year, to put an end to this “drift”.

Under a historic agreement signed in 2015 with major world powers, Iran can only enrich its uranium to 3.67%. The United States withdrew from the deal in 2018, but Europe, China and Russia remain committed to it and expect Iran to do the same, although diplomatic efforts to do so have so far failed.

Between June and November last year, Iran slowed its production of enriched uranium to three kilos per month, but increased to a rate of nine kilos by the end of the year, the IAEA previously reported .

“This slowdown, this acceleration is like a cycle which, for me, does not modify the fundamental trend, which is a trend of constant increase in stocks of highly enriched uranium,” Rafael Grossi said.

Late last year, the IAEA warned that Tehran already had enough material to make three nuclear bombs if uranium already enriched to 60% was further enriched.

According to experts, enriching uranium from 60% to 90% is a simple technical procedure.

Concern over Iran’s nuclear production is all the more acute in the context of renewed tensions in the Middle East linked to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, supported by the Tehran regime, in the Gaza Strip. . (Reporting Julia Payne, Blandine Hénault for the French version)


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