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Iran fails to explain uranium traces found at several sites -IAEA report

Commodities May 31, 2021 02:50PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

By Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters) -Iran has failed to explain traces of uranium found at several undeclared sites, a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog showed on Monday, possibly setting up a fresh diplomatic clash between Tehran and the West that could derail wider nuclear talks.

Three months ago Britain, France and Germany scrapped a U.S.-backed plan for the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation Board of Governors to criticise Iran for failing to fully explain the origin of the particles; the three backed off as IAEA chief Rafael Grossi announced fresh talks with Iran.

"After many months, Iran has not provided the necessary explanation for the presence of the nuclear material particles at any of the three locations where the Agency has conducted complementary accesses (inspections)," a report by Grossi to member states seen by Reuters said.

It will now be up to the three European powers to decide whether to revive their push for a resolution criticising Iran, which could undermine wider negotiations to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal at talks currently underway in Vienna. Grossi had hoped to report progress before the board meets again next week.

"The Director General is concerned that the technical discussions between the Agency and Iran have not yielded the expected results," the report said.

"The lack of progress in clarifying the Agency's questions concerning the correctness and completeness of Iran's safeguards declarations seriously affects the ability of the Agency to provide assurance of the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme," it added.

In a separate quarterly report also sent to member states on Monday and seen by Reuters, the agency gave an indication of the damage done to Iran's production of enriched uranium by an explosion and power cut at its Natanz site last month that Tehran has blamed on Israel.

Iran's quarterly increase in its stock of enriched uranium was the lowest since August 2019 at just 273 kg, bringing the total to 3,241 kg, according to an IAEA estimate. It was not able to fully verify the stock because Iran has downgraded cooperation.

That total is many times the 202.8 kg limit set by the nuclear deal, but still well below the more than six tonnes Iran possessed before the deal.

DAMAGE TO NATANZ

At Iran's main enrichment plant, which is underground at Natanz, the agency verified on May 24 that 20 cascades, or clusters, of different types of centrifuges were being fed with uranium hexafluoride feedstock for enrichment. A senior diplomat said that before the explosion that figure was 35-37.

After Washington pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018 under President Donald Trump and re-imposed crippling economic sanctions against Tehran, Iran began breaching the deal's restrictions on its nuclear activities as of 2019.

One of its more recent breaches, enriching uranium to 60%, a big step towards weapons-grade from the 20% it had previously reached and the deal's 3.67% limit, continued. The IAEA estimated that Iran had produced 2.4 kg of uranium enriched to that level and 62.8 kg of uranium enriched to up to 20%.

Iran's production of experimental quantities of uranium metal, which is prohibited under the deal and has prompted protests by Western powers because of its potential use in the core of nuclear weapons, also continued. Iran produced 2.42 kg, the IAEA reported, up from 3.6 grams three months ago.

Iran fails to explain uranium traces found at several sites -IAEA report
 

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Comments (7)
Roger Pruzansky
Roger Pruzansky Jun 01, 2021 4:58AM ET
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why not just give Iran full nuclear capabilities so when there's a skirmish next time it's a world wide problem I'm the middle east
Me comment
Me comment May 31, 2021 9:06PM ET
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Time for an Israeli bombing mission.
Al Gore
Al Gore May 31, 2021 6:59PM ET
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very good
New Jazenevd
New Jazenevd May 31, 2021 6:54PM ET
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Burisma Joe will apologize and send $50B to ayatollahs to solve the issue.
Connecticut Yankee
A_Jaundiced_Eye May 31, 2021 6:54PM ET
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Reparations for Iran.
Trevor Roberts
LimitUp May 31, 2021 6:06PM ET
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Under Sleepy Joe the world is becoming a more dangerous place
Max Tor
Max Tor May 31, 2021 5:33PM ET
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I bet Biden and Obama could splain it
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun May 31, 2021 4:30PM ET
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These guys put Kim in shame. The world looks away until the bad guys have nuke then nothing can remove them
Bull Power
Bull Power May 31, 2021 4:30PM ET
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Meanwhile Israel literally the only country doing anything about this, already sabotaged Iran's nuclear facility multiple times. But the world is busy cheering for dictatorships, because it's so much more politically correct.
Bull Power
Bull Power May 31, 2021 4:30PM ET
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Meanwhile Israel literally the only country doing anything about this, already sabotaged Iran's nuclear facility multiple times. But the world is busy cheering for the Islamic dictatorships, because it's so much more politically correct. USA kicked Trump and all the rats started feeling safe back on the surface again, hope they are happy with the poor choices they made.
 
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