VIENNA—Iran continues to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium in violation of limitations set in a landmark deal with world powers, the U.N.’s atomic watchdog agency said Friday after the country allowed the regulator access to sites where it was suspected of having stored or used undeclared nuclear material and possibly conducted nuclear-related activities.
The International Atomic Energy Agency reported in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press that Iran as of Aug. 25 had stockpiled 2,105.4 kilograms (2.32 tons) of low-enriched uranium—up from 1,571.6 kilograms (1.73 tons) last reported on May 20.
Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China, and Russia. Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, it allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds).
The IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5 percent, higher than the 3.67 percent allowed under the JCPOA. It said Iran’s stockpile of heavy water—which helps cool nuclear reactors—had decreased, however, and is now reportedly back within the JCPOA limits. There remain concerns that Iran may secretly launch a heavy water reactor for turning non-enriched uranium into plutonium.
The nuclear deal promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program. President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal unilaterally in 2018, saying it needed to be renegotiated for fairness and cover Iran’s ballistic missile program and financial support of terrorist groups and militias including Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis in Yemen.
Since then, Iran has slowly violated the restrictions to try and pressure the remaining nations to increase their incentives to offset Trump’s sanctions.
Those countries maintain that even though Iran has been violating many of the pact’s restrictions, it is important to keep the deal alive to maintain the non-proliferation agreement and provide the IAEA access to inspect its nuclear facilities.
The agency had been at a months-long impasse over two locations thought to be from the early 2000s, however, which Iran had argued inspectors had no right to visit because they dated to before the deal.
But after IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi personally visited Tehran in late August for meetings with top officials, he said Iran had agreed to provide inspectors access.
In its report, the IAEA said inspectors had already visited one site and would visit the other this month.
It didn’t detail their findings.
The ultimate goal of the JCPOA is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, which Iran insists it does not want to do.
Still, Iran has stockpiled enough enriched uranium to produce a weapon.
According to the Washington-based Arms Control Association, Iran would need roughly 1,050 kilograms (1.16 tons) of low-enriched uranium—under 5 percent purity—in gas form and would then need to enrich it further to weapons-grade, or more than 90 percent purity, to make a nuclear weapon.
Before agreeing to the nuclear deal, however, Iran enriched its uranium up to 20 percent purity, which is just a short technical step away from the weapons-grade level of 90 perent. In 2013, Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium was already more than 7,000 kilograms (7.72 tons) with higher enrichment.
The report of the violation of the JCPOA comes almost two weeks after the United States requested a “snapback” of sanctions on Iran because it claimed the regime was in violation of the deal. The U.S. proposal had initially proposed through the U.N. Security Council to reinstate an arms embargo against Iran set to expire on Oct. 18, but the motion failed to pass.
Epoch Times staff contributed to this article.