Navigation
  •  

Iran claims larger than expected stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium

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

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Iran’s nuclear chief has said Tehran has far more enriched uranium than what the UN’s nuclear inspectors reported just last month.

Speaking on Iranian state television late on October 9, Mohammad Eslami said Iran has 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium.

In September, the International Atomic Energy Agency estimated Iran’s stockpile to be 84.3 kilograms.

It takes about 170 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon. Most nuclear weapons, however, use enriched uranium above 90 percent.

Under the terms of a 2015 deal between Iran and the international community, Tehran is barred from enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent. In return, the other signatories agreed to provide Iran with 20 percent enriched uranium for its research reactor.

“But it was not delivered,” Eslami said. “If we did not produce it by ourselves, this would have become a problem.”

The nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

In 2018, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the agreement and reimposed sanctions, saying the JCPOA failed to address Iran’s ballistic-missile program or Tehran’s support for terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Since the U.S. withdrawal, the other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia — have tried to preserve it.

U.S. President Joe Biden has said he is open to rejoining the JCPOA, but talks with Iran have not produced clear results.