On February 19, Rafael Grossi, the head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog (IAEA), stated that Iran is continuing uranium enrichment at levels higher than commercial needs. He added that he intends to visit Iran next month for the first time in the past year.

Mr. Grossi, in an interview with Reuters, stated that ”while the pace of uranium enrichment had slowed slightly since the end of last year, Iran was still enriching at an elevated rate of around 7 kg of uranium per month to 60% purity.”

Enrichment of uranium to 60% is close to the level required for the production of nuclear weapons and is not necessarily applicable for commercial or non-military purposes. Iran insists that it is not pursuing nuclear weapons, but no country has undertaken uranium enrichment at this level without consideration of nuclear weapon production.

Under the 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran’s regime could only enrich uranium up to 3.67%.

The IAEA had previously reported that Iran reduced uranium enrichment from June to November of the previous year but increased it to 9 kilograms by the end of the year.

“This slowdown, speedup thing is like a cycle that for me does not alter the fundamental trend, which is a trend of constant increase in inventory of highly enriched uranium,” said Grossi.

In late 2023, the International Atomic Energy Agency had warned that if Tehran enriches uranium above 60%, it would possess the necessary materials for producing three nuclear bombs.

“There is a concerning rhetoric, you may have heard high officials in Iran saying they have all the elements for a nuclear weapon lately,” Grossi said.

Grossi further expressed concern, considering the current situation in the Middle East, particularly with the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Recently, Ali Akbar Salehi, the former head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, likened Iran’s capability to build nuclear weapons to a car with different components. He stated that Iran has produced all these components separately for its own purposes and has not connected them.

These statements prompted a response from Rafael Grossi, who mentioned that Iran is “not entirely transparent” about its nuclear program.

Source » iranfocus