Tuesday, March 21, 2023

IAEA reports little progress in standoff with Iran, conflict with Western looms

Iran has done little to answer long-standing questions from the UN nuclear watchdog over the origins of uranium particles found at three undeclared sites, the watchdog said in a report seen by Reuters on Monday.

A lack of progress at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board of governors meeting next week could set off a new diplomatic conflict with the West. If Western powers seek a resolution criticizing Tehran, it could deal another blow to stalled efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

The latest quarterly IAEA report detailing Iran’s continued failure to respond satisfactorily put pressure on the US and its allies to take action against Iran at a board meeting, as Tehran and the IAEA agreed in March to clear things up. An outright push was announced.

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“Iran has not provided a technically credible explanation with regard to the agency’s findings at those locations,” the report said, adding: “The security measures issues relating to these three locations remain outstanding.”

A separate quarterly IAEA report seen by Reuters said Iran’s uranium stockpile is enriched by 60 percent — close to 90 percent that is weapons grade, in the form that can be fed into uranium-enriched centrifuges — Estimated to increase from 9.9 kg to 43.1 kg.

This is more than what the IAEA calls a “significant quantity”, which is defined as “the estimated amount of nuclear material for which the possibility of manufacturing a nuclear explosive device cannot be excluded” – or theoretically sufficient. The material, if it is further enriched, an atomic bomb.

A significant amount would be about 42 kilograms of uranium at 60 percent purity.

Western powers fear that Iran may be able to move rapidly towards building a nuclear bomb, although Iran maintains that its intentions are completely peaceful.

Read more:

Analysis: Iran nuclear deal near death, but West unwilling to pull the plug

Analysis: Subtle shift in US rhetoric suggests new approach to Iran

IAEA still hopeful of Iran deal but concerned about undeclared nuclear activities

Nation World News Desk
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