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Report: Iran’s uranium stockpile 12 times limit set in 2015 nuclear deal

Cascade of gas centrifuges used to produce enriched uranium. (U.S. Department of Energy Archives/Released)
November 11, 2020

The United Nation’s nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that Iran has stockpiled about 2,442.9 kilograms (5385.7 pounds) of low-enriched uranium, about 12 times the agreed-upon limit set in the nuclear deal with world leaders.

The 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal,  permits Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms (447 pounds). The findings were revealed in an IAEA report distributed to member countries, but later obtained by the Associated Press.

The IAEA’s further found on Nov. 2. that Iran has also broken a uranium enrichment limit. Iran has reportedly enriched uranium to a purity of 4.5 percent, higher than the 3.67 percent allowed under the JCPOA.

The AP reported the IAEA also raised questions about their discovery of uranium particles of man-made origin at a site that Iran had not previously declared.

In the report, the IAEA reportedly said the “compositions of these isotopically altered particles” found there were “similar to particles found in Iran in the past, originating from imported centrifuge components.” The IAEA said it found Iran’s response to questions about the particles “unsatisfactory.”

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“Following an assessment of this new information, the agency informed Iran that it continues to consider Iran’s response to be not technically credible,” the IAEA report continued. “A full and prompt explanation from Iran…is needed.”

Iran has openly announced its moves to exceed the limits of the JCPOA following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA in 2018 and after the January U.S. strike that killed Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq.

The IAEA has periodically announced Iran’s uranium stockpile levels. In June, the IAEA reported Iran had eight times the limit permitted in the JCPOA. In September, the IAEA saw Iran at 10 times the JCPOA’s uranium stockpile limit.

While the U.S. has withdrawn from the JCPOA, the U.K., France, Germany, China, and Russia have remained and tried to preserve the nuclear agreement with Iran.

In September, after the U.N. declined a U.S.-led effort to extend an Iranian arms embargo beyond its expiration date, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the U.S. would trigger a return to sanctions against Iran. The U.K., France, and Germany argued the U.S. had lost the right to trigger the sanctions snapback after Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, while Pompeo argued that the right to trigger a sanctions snapback was codified in the U.N. resolution that enshrines the JCPOA, for which the U.S. is still a member.