Issued by CEMO Center - Paris
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U.N. Inspectors Detect Near-Weapons-Grade Enriched Uranium in Iran

Monday 20/February/2023 - 06:26 PM
The Reference
Dina Khalaf

United Nations atomic agency inspectors have discovered uranium that has been enriched to near weapons-grade in Iran in recent weeks, according to three senior diplomats. The finding deepens concerns about Tehran's nuclear ambitions, as Iran has been producing highly enriched, weapons-grade material of 60% purity since early 2021, but the material found was of 84% purity.
The diplomats said they had been informed that Iran doesn’t appear to be accumulating a stockpile of the 84% material, but the discovery is still raising alarm. Were Iran to deliberately start producing weapons-grade material, it could spark a major crisis over the country’s nuclear activities, with Western officials warning that it could lead to Israel pursuing a military attack on Iran’s nuclear program.
Under the 2015 agreement, Iran was only supposed to enrich uranium up to 3.67% for 15 years. But Iran has greatly expanded its nuclear work since 2019, a year after the Trump administration took the U.S. out of the 2015 nuclear accord. President Biden’s efforts to revive the agreement, which lifted most international sanctions on Tehran in exchange for strict but temporary limits on Iran’s nuclear work, have so far failed.
Sunday’s news comes as Western concerns build about Iran’s possible nuclear-weapon ambitions, with Tehran insisting that its nuclear work is purely peaceful. On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with his British, French and German counterparts at the Munich Security Conference to discuss Tehran’s “nuclear escalation”.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was aware of media reports about the findings and “is discussing with Iran the results of recent agency” work to verify Iran’s nuclear activities. It hasn't issued a report on the findings to member states, something it usually does when Iran makes advances in its nuclear activities, but said it will inform member states as appropriate.
The European countries that negotiated the nuclear deal called the news of the 84% material a "grave development." IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi has said Iran has a stockpile of enriched uranium now that would allow it to fuel several nuclear weapons if the material were turned into weapons-grade uranium. Tehran has also laid out ambitious plans to scale up its nuclear-fuel production in the absence of a nuclear deal.