Iran: Uranium stockpile found to be '16 times over limit'
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Iran has been found to be in possession of more than “16 times” the agreed limit of enriched uranium used to make nuclear weapons. It comes as the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog estimated Iran’s total uranium stockpile is currently at about 3,241 kilograms. Concerns have been rising in recent months and came to a head on Monday when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had been unable to access data that monitors Iran’s nuclear program since February in what they are calling a blackout.
The report read: “After many months, Iran has not provided the necessary explanation for the presence of the nuclear material particles at any of the three locations where the Agency has conducted complementary accesses (inspections).”
The agency added they had not had access to “data from its online enrichment monitors and electronic seals, or had access to the measurement recordings registered by its installed measurement devices.
The issues have persisted since February when Iran started restricting international inspections of its facilities, according to the IAEA.
Iran has also failed to justify the presence and level of uranium at undeclared and secret sites across the country.
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Experts say the massive stockpiles mean Iran can make up to three nuclear weapons which is a breach of the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal which saw crippling sanctions lifted on the country.
Rafael Grossi, the director-general of the IAEA, said: “We know that something happened here. There is no way round it. We have found this. There was material here. When was this? What has happened with this equipment? Where is the material? They have to answer.
“They know they have to provide explanations. We are asking them to come clean with all these things because it can only help them.”
He also hit out at Iran’s leadership, telling Hassan Rouhani: “This is going to affect the credibility of your country in general and the chances for any bigger wider agreement that you want to enter with your counterparts in the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action].”
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Under the 2015 deal, the IAEA placed around 2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment.
These seals inside Iran’s nuclear facilities communicate electronically with inspectors which allows the UN to keep an eye on what Iran is getting up to.
The automated measuring devices also provided real-time data from the program but this has been “blacked out” since the end of February.
But the start of the year Britain along with France and Germany ditched a Biden-backed plan for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation Board of Governors to criticize Iran for failing to fully explain the origin of the particles.
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While the stockpile estimate is only an estimate because of the blackout, Iran is continuing to enrich uranium at its highest level ever.
In line with the 2015 deal, Iran is only allowed to enrich uranium to a level of 4 percent which is what is required to fuel atomic reactors.
Nuclear weapons require uranium enriched to a level of 90 percent.
But once uranium has been enriched to 60 percent it is possible to enrich it to the higher level very quickly.
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