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Iran’s enrichment to excessive ranges at Natanz plant is increasing, IAEA says

  • Iran is already enriching to as much as 60% at pilot plant
  • It plans to broaden enrichment past 20% at that plant
  • Iran says transfer is momentary and it’ll not maintain materials
  • IAEA boosts “frequency and intensity” of inspections there

VIENNA, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Iran is increasing its enrichment of uranium past the extremely enriched threshold of 20% purity at a Natanz plant the place it’s already enriching to 60%, however the brand new exercise doesn’t contain holding the product, the U.N nuclear watchdog mentioned on Monday.

The transfer is probably going to assist Iran refine its data of the enrichment course of – one thing Western powers typically condemn as a result of it’s irreversible – however since this time the product just isn’t being collected it is not going to instantly speed up Iran’s manufacturing of uranium enriched to shut to weapons-grade.

It has, nonetheless, prompted the International Atomic Energy Agency to “increase the frequency and intensity of its safeguards activities” on the above-ground Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) at Natanz, the IAEA mentioned in a report seen by Reuters. As of round 90% uranium is taken into account weapons-grade.

The IAEA mentioned in a press release outlining the report that Iran knowledgeable it final week of adjustments to the setup of centrifuges, machines that enrich uranium, on the plant – Iran would feed uranium enriched to as much as 20% into restricted numbers of additional centrifuges with out amassing the product.

“On 25 October 2021, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding (uranium hexafluoride gas) enriched up to 20% U-235 into a single IR-6 centrifuge in R&D line 2 at PFEP and that the resulting product and tails streams were being re-combined,” the IAEA report mentioned, which means that after separating the enriched product it was blended with the centrifuge’s waste and never saved.

Iran had mentioned it deliberate to additionally feed uranium enriched to as much as 20% into different single centrifuges or small- to medium-sized cascades, or clusters, of machines on the identical line, however these weren’t being fed on the time, the IAEA mentioned.

Iran has but to announce a date to renew discussions in Vienna about reviving the 2015 nuclear pact beneath which it curbed its nuclear program in return for reduction from U.S., EU and U.N. financial sanctions.

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump deserted the pact in 2018 and reimposed harsh U.S. sanctions. About a 12 months later, Iran began violating a few of the deal’s limits on uranium enrichment.

Reporting by Francois Murphy
Editing by Chris Reese and Nick Macfie

A view of the Natanz uranium enrichment facility 250 km (155 miles) south of the Iranian capital Tehran, March 30, 2005. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi//File Photo