Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Sravasti Dasgupta

Iran a step away from weapons-grade uranium, nuclear watchdog says


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said that Iran is enriching uranium to 60 per cent purity at its Fordow plant as a part of an expansion of its enrichment capacity in defiance of objections raised by Western countries.

In a statement on Tuesday, IAEA director general Rafael Grossi said: “Iran has started producing high enriched uranium – UF6 enriched up to 60 per cent – using the existing two cascades of IR-6 centrifuges in the Fordow fuel enrichment plant (FFEP), in addition to such production that has taken place at Natanz since April 2021.”

Weapons-grade uranium is 90 per cent enriched or more, according to a report by the BBC.

Under its 2015 nuclear deal with China, France, Germany, Russia, the US and the UK, Tehran was allowed to enrich uranium up to 3.67 per cent purity.

Mr Grossi added in his statement that Iran had installed more “cascades of advanced IR-6 centrifuges” and planned a “significant expansion of low enriched uranium production – UF6 enriched up to 5 per cent or up to 20 per cent – at Fordow” (which is near the north-central city of Qom) through those advanced centrifuges, reported CNN.

Tehran’s move appears to be in retaliation to a resolution passed by the UN’s nuclear watchdog last week, in which the 35-nation board of governors ordered Iran to cooperate with the ongoing years-long probe into the origin of uranium particles found at three undeclared sites in the country.

According to the 2015 nuclear pact signed between Iran and the six countries, Tehran was permitted to use only first-generation IR-1 centrifuges.

After the deal fell through in 2018, with US president Donald Trump withdrawing from it, Tehran has installed more efficient advanced centrifuges, such as the IR-2m, IR-4 and IR-6.

It has also resumed enrichment at Fordow, which was barred under the deal.

In the long run, the IAEA said, Iran planned an expansion of its underground, commercial-scale fuel enrichment plant at Natanz.

“Iran continues to advance its enrichment activities at the fuel enrichment plant in Natanz and now plans to install a second production building, capable of housing over 100 centrifuge cascades,” the statement added.

The IAEA statement came hours after Iran’s state media Press TV reported that Tehran had informed the UN’s nuclear watchdog that it would boost its uranium enrichment to the 60 per cent enrichment level.

Press TV described it as “a strong message to the recent anti-Iran resolution passed by the IAEA’s board of governors”.

(Additional reporting by agencies)

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.