IAEA to verify uranium enrichment at Iran’s Fordow: Official

Tasnim – Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are going to verify the resumption of nuclear enrichment at Iran’s Fordow nuclear site on Sunday, the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said.

Speaking at a press conference at the Fordow nuclear facility on Saturday, Behrouz Kamalvandi said Iran has started injecting uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into 1,044 centrifuge machines in the fourth step of reducing its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal.

He also noted that the IAEA has been monitoring the process of nuclear material injection into the centrifuges, and its inspectors are going to analyze the samples taken from the centrifuge machines on Sunday before making a verification report regarding enrichment at the nuclear site.

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Fordow nuclear site was supposed to exclude nuclear materials for 15 years, but Iran resumed enrichment activities in the fourth step of reduced commitments to the nuclear deal and transferred a cylinder to the Fordow site containing around 2,000 kilograms of UF6, Kamalvandi added.

The spokesman said that uranium enrichment at Fordow is going to take place at full capacity in the coming days, and that it would raise the country’s level of uranium enrichment capacity to 9,500 SWU (Separative Work Unit), close to the capacity before the JCPOA.

At midnight Wednesday, Iran restarted enrichment at the Fordow nuclear facility as the fourth step away from the 2015 accord.

The country had earlier reduced its commitments in three other phases, but the latest one, the injection of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into centrifuges at Fordow, is believed to be the most important step so far, and a serious warning to the other parties.

In May 2018, US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the JCPOA.

Iran and the remaining parties launched talks to save the JCPOA after the US withdrawal, but the three EU parties to the deal (France, Britain, and Germany) have failed to ensure Iran’s economic interests.

The EU’s inaction forced Tehran to stop honoring certain commitments to the nuclear deal, including a rise in the stockpile of enriched uranium.

Iran maintains that the new measures are not designed to harm the JCPOA but to save the accord by creating a balance in the commitments.