Iran has significantly increased its stockpile of enriched uranium in recent months, continuing its nuclear escalation, a confidential report by the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog seen by Agence France-Presse (AFP) said on Wednesday.

The agency, however, noted progress in its cooperation with Iran in a separate report, saying it has decided to close the file on nuclear material at an undeclared site, an issue that has long exacerbated relations between the two parties.

The two confidential reports come days before the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is due to meet to review progress in addressing the watchdog’s remaining concerns.

The agency said in its quarterly report that Iran’s estimated stockpile of enriched uranium had reached more than 23 times the limit set out in the landmark 2015 accord between Tehran and world powers.

As of May 13, Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile was estimated at 4,744.5 kilograms (10,459 pounds). The limit in the 2015 deal was 202.8 kg.

The report also said Iran was continuing its enrichment of uranium to levels higher than the 3.67-percent limit in the agreement.

Efforts to revive the Iran nuclear deal — which was left in tatters by the unilateral withdrawal of the United States in 2018 — have stalled since last summer.

The stockpile of uranium enriched up to 20 percent is now believed to be 470.9 kg — up 36.2 kg since the last report in February — while the amount enriched up to 60 percent stands at 114.1 kg, an increase of 26.6 kg.

Enrichment levels of about 90 percent are required for use in a nuclear weapon.

Meanwhile, the IAEA has been able to reinstall some monitoring equipment set up under the 2015 deal — but which was later removed by Iran — the reports said.

“Iran has allowed the agency to install monitoring equipment at two declared enrichment facilities,” it said.

Some additional surveillance cameras were also installed at workshops in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, where “centrifuge rotor tubes and bellows are manufactured.”

However, the IAEA said it was awaiting Iran’s engagement to address “the completion of the installation of surveillance and monitoring equipment, access to data recordings and the gaps in the recordings.”

On the detection of uranium particles enriched to near bomb-grade at the Fordo plant, the agency said it had “no further questions on the matter” for now.

“The agency assessed that the information provided (by Iran) was not inconsistent with Iran’s explanation for the origin of these particles,” the report said.

In the second report, the IAEA said it and decided to close the file relating to the presence of nuclear material at one undeclared site after receiving a “possible explanation” from Iran.

The watchdog “has no additional questions… and the matter is no longer outstanding at this stage,” the report said of the site at Marivan in Abedeh county, southern Fars province.

The IAEA had reported the discovery of traces of radioactive material at three sites not declared by Iran, in a blow to efforts to restore the 2015 deal.

The Marivan site is the first to be addressed under a work plan agreed by Iran and the IAEA in March. The other two sites are Varamin and Turquzabad.

Iran has always denied any ambition to develop a nuclear weapons capability, insisting its activities are entirely peaceful.

Source » manilatimes