Iran continues to produce uranium metal, which can be used in the production of a nuclear bomb, the United Nations atomic watchdog confirmed on Tuesday, further complicating the possibility of relaunching a landmark deal. 2015 with the world powers on the Iranian nuclear program.
In a report released by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna to member countries, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said his inspectors confirmed on Saturday that Iran had now produced 200 grams of enriched uranium metal until at 20%.
Grossi previously reported in February that his inspectors had confirmed that a small amount of uranium metal, 3.6 grams, had been produced at Iran’s Isfahan plant.
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The production of uranium metal is banned by the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, which promises Iran economic incentives in exchange for limits on its nuclear program, and aims to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb.
Iran insists it is not interested in developing a bomb and that the uranium metal is for its civilian nuclear program.
Earlier this year, European members of the JCPOA expressed “serious concern” over the production of uranium metal, however saying that Iran has no credible civilian need for it and that it is a ” key step in the development of a nuclear weapon “.
The United States unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, with then-President Donald Trump saying it had to be renegotiated.
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Since then, Tehran has steadily increased its violations of the agreement to pressure other signatories to provide more incentives for Iran to offset crippling US sanctions reimposed after the US withdrawal.
Western Europeans, along with Russia and China, are working to preserve the deal.
President Joe Biden has said he is ready to join the pact, but Iran must return to its restrictions, while Iran has insisted that the United States lift all sanctions.
Months of talks took place in Vienna with other parts of the JCPOA shuttling between Iranian and US delegations
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The latest round of talks ended in June with no date set for their resumption.
Following the IAEA’s latest report on increasing uranium metal production, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the move was “unconstructive and inconsistent with a return to mutual conformity “.
“Iran has no credible need to produce uranium metal, which has direct relevance to the development of nuclear weapons,” he said in a statement.
“Such escalations will not provide Iran with negotiating leverage in further negotiations on a mutual return to JCPOA compliance and will only deepen Iran’s isolation.”
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He added that “Iran’s nuclear advances are affecting our vision of returning to the JCPOA,” and suggested that the United States is slowly losing patience.
“We are not imposing a deadline for negotiations, but this window will not remain open indefinitely,” he said.
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