Arab Press

بالشعب و للشعب
Sunday, Mar 03, 2024

U.N. agency: Iran continues to block nuclear probe, scales up its nuclear program

U.N. agency: Iran continues to block nuclear probe, scales up its nuclear program

Diplomats say its ‘likely’ Iran could face a fresh resolution at the IAEA Board of Governors next week in Vienna.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog on Thursday said that Iran continues to increase its highly enriched uranium stockpile, which is just a small step away from weapons-grade.

In its latest quarterly report circulated to member states on Thursday and seen by POLITICO, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran increased these reserves further since its last report in September.

More specifically, the IAEA estimated that as of Oct. 22, Iran had 62.3 kilograms of uranium enriched to up to 60 percent fissile purity, an increase of 6.7 kilograms from September.

Non-proliferation experts say that Iran’s current stockpile of 60 percent enriched uranium is sufficient for one nuclear bomb, if enriched further. Building an actual weapon, however, requires additional steps and time, as well as a decision by the Iranian regime to do so.

The IAEA report also estimated that as of Oct. 22, Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile was 3673.7 kilograms, a decrease of 267.2 kilograms since the last quarterly report in September.

These numbers significantly exceed the limits imposed under the original 2015 nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. While the U.S. withdrew from the deal in 2018, the other signatories to the deal, including Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — continued to implement it. As a reaction to the U.S. withdrawal, Iran incrementally began to breach the pact starting in 2019.

Under the agreement, Iran is allowed to accumulate a total stockpile of not more than 300 kilograms and is allowed to enrich uranium at 3.67 percent — sufficient for peaceful purposes including medical aims or to fuel power plants.

Iran has long held that its nuclear program is solely intended for peaceful purposes.

On Thursday, the IAEA also cautioned that it was no longer able to verify the exact size of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium due to the severe restrictions Tehran had begun to impose on U.N. inspectors as of February 2021.

In June 2022, Tehran furthermore decided to remove all surveillance equipment — in total 27 cameras — that had been installed at its nuclear sites to monitor Tehran’s compliance under the 2015 nuclear deal.

In its current report, the IAEA also says that even if theoretically at some point in the future all of the equipment is reinstalled by Iran and inspectors are granted full access again, it would take the UN agency “considerable time” to re-established a baseline which would come with a “degree of uncertainty.”

“The longer the current situation persists the greater such uncertainty becomes,” the report states, adding that this situation is having “detrimental implications for the Agency’s ability to provide assurances of the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.”

Eric Brewer, a Senior Director at the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative, explained this further, saying that this is “mainly about knowledge gaps pertaining to Iran’s centrifuge production activities.”

Centrifuges are machines that spin at high speed to enrich uranium.

“In essence, monitoring Iran’s centrifuge production bolsters confidence that Tehran doesn’t have a covert enrichment facility,” he said.

Iran’s rapidly growing nuclear program comes at a time when efforts to revive the original 2015 Iran nuclear deal are on ice.

The indirect talks between Iran, the U.S. and other world powers are aimed at restoring the original 2015 nuclear accord, which lifted many international sanctions on Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program and verification by the IAEA.

The talks began in April 2021 and went on for about 16 months in Vienna with several ups and downs, before collapsing at the beginning of September.

At the time, Iran asked for further guarantees that a probe by the IAEA into its past nuclear program be closed once and for all — as a precondition for Tehran re-entering the nuclear deal.

Western nations have refused this demand and said that the investigation must be completed by the IAEA and must be kept separate from the nuclear deal negotiations.

Specifically, the IAEA is seeking answers from Iran on the origin of nuclear traces found at three specific locations inside Iran and wants to know where that nuclear material is located now.

Western officials have long held the belief that the nuclear traces could be a sign of Iran having pursued a clandestine nuclear weapons program that ran until approximately 2003.

But Iran has been stonewalling the agency for three years and continues to do so.

In its second report also circulated on Thursday and seen by POLITICO, the IAEA said that Iran has still not provided explanations about the origin and current location of the nuclear traces that are deemed “technically credible” by the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s experts.

In an effort to break the ice and move the investigation forward, IAEA director general Rafael Grossi held a meeting with Mohammad Eslami, vice president of Iran and the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, in Vienna on Sept. 26-27.

After that meeting, it took Iran until Nov. 7 to send a delegation of senior officials to Vienna for follow-up talks. They ended again without progress.

Iran nevertheless committed to inviting senior IAEA officials to Tehran before the end of November to continue talking.

The second IAEA report warns Tehran that it “expects to start receiving from Iran technically credible explanations on these issues” when its experts meet with Iranian officials in the coming weeks in Tehran.

One senior diplomat with detailed knowledge of the nuclear file said it was “likely” that officials at next week’s IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna will respond to Iran’s lack of cooperation by passing a resolution criticizing Tehran for its behavior. “A lot of time has passed without any progress,” the diplomat said. “What else can be done?”

But the diplomat also cautioned that no formal decision on a resolution has been made yet and no draft text has been circulated.

A senior European diplomat agreed that a resolution is the most likely scenario. Both diplomats requested anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic.

A resolution criticizing Iran would coincide with other developments that have made a revival of the 2015 nuclear deal near impossible.

Iran’s security forces have been brutally cracking down on protesters across the country for many weeks, which has prompted the U.S., EU member states and other Western nations to impose additional sanctions for human rights abuses. The protests have been sparked by the death in police custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini for allegedly violating the Islamic Republic’s strict hijab rules. Iran has also been selling lethal drones to Russia that Moscow is using in its war against Ukraine, prompting further sanctions from the West.
Newsletter

Related Articles

Arab Press
0:00
0:00
Close
China Criticizes US for Vetoing UN Ceasefire Resolution in Gaza
Saudi Arabia ranks first in UN index for e-government services in MENA
Israel Records 20% Drop In GDP, War In Gaza Is The Reason
Saudi Arabia's FDI Inflows Grow with New International Standards
Venture Capitals Power Up Across MENA Region
PM Modi Announces Opening Of New CBSE Office In Dubai
January Funding for MENA Startups Totals $86.5 Million
Saudi Arabia accelerates digital economy growth through Nvidia partnership
Israel unveils tunnels underneath Gaza City headquarters of UN agency for Palestinian refugees
Israel deploys new military AI in Gaza war
Egypt threatens to suspend key peace treaty if Israel pushes into Gaza border town, officials say
Saudi Arabia Warns Of A "Humanitarian Catastrophe" If Israel Moves On Rafah
US University To Shut Qatar Campus Due To "Heightened Mideast Instability"
Facebook and Instagram Ban Iran's Supreme Leader
Defense Technology Showcase Held in Riyadh
Saudi Arabia’s non-oil exports rise 2.5% to $6bn in November 2023: GASTAT
Rolls-Royce Executive Encourages Saudi Women to Tap into Their Inner 'Superhero' for Success in Defense Industry
Saudi Arabia launches National Academy of Vehicles and Cars
Saudi Tourism Minister Reveals Plan for 250,000 New Hotel Rooms by 2030
SAR to more than double eastern network passenger capacity with new trains deal
Saudi Arabia Enhances National Defense with New Partnerships
Saudi Aramco Maintains Arab Light Crude Pricing to Asia for March
NEOM Establishes New York Office to Support Investors
Saudi Wealth Fund Draws in Over $25 Billion Worth of Investments in Three Years, Al-Rumayyan Reveals
The Saudi Kingdom's Ultimatum to Israel: A Win-Win Peace with Saudi Arabia and the Arab World, or a Lose-Lose Continued Occupation and Endless Conflict
Biden condemns anti-Arab hate after WSJ opinion piece calls Dearborn ‘jihad capital’
Turkey Releases Seven Hostages Captured by Pro-Gaza Gunman
Arab Parliament Commends Women's Contributions to Societal Development
British and Hungarian Foreign Ministers visited Lebanese leaders to stress the importance of enacting UN Resolution 1701
Yemen's Houthis Say They Targeted British Merchant Vessel In Red Sea
Donald Trump Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for 'Historic' Middle East Policy
US lawmakers approve F-16 jet sale to Turkey following NATO expansion support
Saudi Arabia Climbs 25 Places in World Bank's National Statistics Indicator
Tourism Growth in Saudi Arabia Fuels Advancements in the Hospitality Industry," Says Rotana Official
Houthi Rebels Request Departure of UN Staff from Yemen, Including US and UK Personnel, within a Month
Modi Inaugurates Hindu Temple on Site of Demolished Mosque in India
Over 25,000 Deaths in Gaza Amid Israeli Offensive
Escalating Clashes in Gaza as Israel Distributes Leaflets to Assist in Locating Hostages
Turkey's First Astronaut Set to Launch for International Space Station Today
Head of Palestinian Investment Fund Warns More People May Die of Hunger Than War in Gaza
Palestinian Envoy Criticizes UK for Alleged 'Double Standards' in Policies Toward Israel
Morocco to Lead UN Human Rights Council in 2024
Is artificial intelligence the solution to cyber security threats?
Egypt has been identified as the leading military force among Arab nations and ranks 15th globally
The AI Revolution in the Workforce: CEOs at Davos Predict Major Job Cuts in 2024
Iranian Nobel Laureate Narges Mohammadi Receives Additional Prison Sentence
"Gazans Urge Israeli Forces to Target Hamas in Leaked Audio"
Biden States US and UK Airstrikes on Houthis Were a 'Defensive Action
Large Pro-Palestine Rally in London as Gaza Conflict Hits Day 100
South Africa Urges World Court to Halt Israeli Actions in Gaza
×