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Iran has more than doubled its uranium stockpile to 950 tons, nuclear chief reveals

Cascade of gas centrifuges used to produce enriched uranium. (U.S. Department of Energy Archives/Released)
July 20, 2018

Despite its nuclear pact, Iran has continued to grow its uranium stockpiles and will soon be able to enrich the uranium.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, told state television that Iran imported 400 tons of “yellowcake uranium” since the 2015 nuclear agreement. Its stockpile now rests between 900 and 950 tons, the Associated Press reported this week.

Since the nuclear deal was struck, Iran has been purchasing the uranium from Russia and Kazakhstan, in addition to mining efforts within its own borders.

While the deal permits this, it also places limits on the enrichment of Iran’s uranium. The country can enrich it to 3.67 percent – a sufficient amount for nuclear power plants, but far from the 90 percent required for atomic weapons.

Although the U.S. pulled out of the nuclear deal this year, several countries still remain. Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and the European Union have remained and continued to negotiate with Iran to maintain the agreement through financial incentives and guarantees.

After the U.S. withdrew from the agreement, Iran committed to boosting its capacity for uranium enrichment to pressure the remaining countries to keep the agreement.

On Tuesday, Spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Behrouz Kamalvandi said at a news conference that Iran was preparing for a plan to implement in the event that the nuclear deal falls apart.

“We have of course adopted some measures in order to prepare the ground for eventually increasing the level of enrichment if it is needed and if the negotiations with the Europeans fail,” he said.

Kamalvandi insisted that Iran would continue to operate within the parameters of the agreement, with one caveat: “But at the same time, taking every scenario into consideration, we are preparing ourselves.”

Salehi also announced the continued purchasing relationship with Russia and others, and revealed that Iran is undergoing exploration efforts to find further resources inside its borders to increase self-reliance regarding uranium needs.

He also confirmed that Iran is on the brink of completing a new factory specializing in constructing centrifuge machines.

The factory was revealed for the first time in June when Iran notified the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Last month, Iran also said it resumed production at a “major” facility aimed at producing resources required for enriching uranium. The facility, located in Isfahan, is considered a key facility in Iran’s nuclear program.

Iran only maintains one nuclear power plant, currently located in southern Iran. It requires 27 tons of fuel annually, for which Iran requires the aid of Russia.