Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium has grown by 50 percent in the last three months, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported this week. A former head of Israeli military intelligence warned that Iran has now substantially reduced the “break-out time” – the time in which it would be possible for the Islamic republic to make enough material for a single nuclear weapon. “Iran has continued to stockpile enriched uranium; it has continued to operate advanced centrifuges and has shortened the time to reaching the nuclear threshold from one year to half a year,” said Amos Yadlin. The IAEA said that as of 20 May, Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,571.6 kg (1.73 tons), up from 1,020.9 kg (1.1 tons) on 19 February. The IAEA also announced that Iran has been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5 percent. That figure exceeds the 3.67 percent allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal struck between the US, Iran, China, Russia and European nations, including Britain. Iran is also above the limitations in the agreement for heavy water.
Donald Trump pulled the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018 but European countries have attempted to maintain it and urged Iran to remain in compliance. Tehran, however, has repeatedly violated the agreement in an attempt to pressure the US into relaxing the sanctions Trump imposed when he withdrew from the deal. The IAEA also said one of three locations it identified in March as places where Iran possibly stored and/or used undeclared nuclear material without declaring them to international observers had undergone “extensive sanitisation and levelling” in 2003-4.
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