Nuclear Energy

Iran increasing uranium enrichment: U.N. watchdog

Published : December 02, 2021 17:29 IST

Iran is expanding its uranium enrichment capabilities, experts from the IAEA said. Photo: AFP/Atomic Energy Organization of Iran/HO

The announcement comes as Tehran and Washington hold indirect talks aiming to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

Iran is expanding its uranium enrichment capabilities in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal, according to experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The U.N. agency's latest report came as talks seeking to restore the nuclear agreement were underway in Vienna. These indirect negotiations between Iran and the United States could help revive the 2015 deal that had Iran limit its nuclear program in exchange for relief from U.S., E.U. and U.N. sanctions.

What happened to the 2015 nuclear deal?

The deal was abandoned in 2018 by the U.S. president at the time, Donald Trump. Under Trump, the U.S. reimposed harsh sanctions that angered Iran and caused tensions with the other parties to the agreement: Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. At the same time, Tehran began gradually to violate the terms of the deal.

Talks geared towards reviving the agreement restarted this week after a five-month break. IAEA investigators visited the Fordow underground nuclear facility on November 30. There, they concluded that steps had been taken to enrich uranium to up to 20 per cent using high-efficiency centrifuges. On November 29, Axios reported that Israel had shared intelligence with the U.S. and European countries that suggested Iran was moving towards the enrichment of uranium to 90 per cent purity. This is the level needed for the creation of a nuclear weapon.

What did Iran say about the report?

Iran has confirmed that 20 per cent uranium enrichment has begun at Fordow. Tehran's permanent mission to the U.N. claimed that the IAEA report was an "ordinary update." Mohammed-Resa Ghalebi, executive director of Iran's IAEA mission in Vienna, said that the enrichment serves purely peaceful purposes.

sdi/nm (dpa, Reuters)

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