Iranian enriched uranium stocks reach 800 kg, authorities say

TASS – The Iranian stocks of enriched uranium has reached 800 kg, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi said on Monday.

“Now we already have more than 800 kg of enriched uranium,” the Tasnim news agency quoted him as saying. “We produce 200 kg of uranium monthly and in the next nine months we will have been able to enrich around 2 tonnes [of uranium].” The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on the Iranian nuclear program limited the amount of enriched uranium at 300 kg for Tehran.

Salehi added that “it is too early to talk about the new step of Iran [to scale back on its commitments to the nuclear deal].” “It is a responsibility of the president and he has yet to make corresponding statements,” the official noted.

Tensions over Iran’s nuclear program exacerbated after Washington unilaterally withdrew from the JCPOA on May 8, 2018 and slapped US economic sanctions on Iran’s oil exports. A year later, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran was scaling back some of its commitments under the JCPOA and called on other signatories to the deal to comply with the conditions of the agreement within two months. The JCPOA was signed between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (Russia, the United Kingdom, China, the United States and France) and Germany in 2015. Under the deal, Iran undertook to curb its nuclear activities and place them under total control of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in exchange of abandonment of the sanctions imposed previously by the United Nations Security Council, the European Union and the United States over its nuclear program.

Iran pledged not to enrich uranium above the level of 3.67% for 15 years and maintain enriched uranium stockpiles at the level not exceeding 300 kg, as well as not to build new heavy-water reactors, not to accumulate heavy water and not to develop nuclear explosive devices.

In May 2019, Iran announced the first step of shedding the JCPOA commitments by halting sales of enriched uranium for 60 days. On July 7, Teheran proceeded to the second stage of scaling down its commitments and announced it had exceeded the 3.67%-level of uranium enrichment. In addition, it promised to keep on reducing its commitment every 60 days if other participants in the deal were not committed to the deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed on July 1 and July 8 that Iran has exceeded the 300 kg limit set for its stockpiles of low enriched uranium and had exceeded the 3.67% enrichment threshold.

On September 6, Tehran launched the first step of scaling back on its commitments to the nuclear deal, which meant that the country refused to observe the restrictions placed on nuclear research. The Iranian side claimed that the actions were prompted by the European parties not complying with their obligations. On November 6, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced further steps away from its JCPOA obligations by launching centrifuges at the Fordow enrichment facility.

In late November, European parties to the nuclear deal proposed considering a mechanism to settle disputes in the framework of the nuclear deal. The initiative envisages involving the UN Security Council and potentially reintroduction of international sanctions.