UN says Iran ups uranium enrichment, Tehran demands more US guarantees to revive nuclear deal
This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
The UN nuclear watchdog says Iran has expanded its enrichment of uranium to a recently installed cluster of centrifuges, signaling another potential challenge to reviving a hobbled international nuclear deal after Tehran insisted it needed more U.S. guarantees to ink any agreement.
JP said it had seen a confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on August 31 in which the agency said Iran was now using the second of three cascades, or clusters, of advanced IR-6 centrifuges at the underground Natanz plant to enrich uranium.
A separate report on August 29 said the first cascade had come onstream.
Each of the first two cascades of up to 174 machines enriches up to 5-percent fissile purity, and no nuclear material has been fed into the third cascade, the IAEA assessment said.
Earlier on August 31, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said his country needs stronger guarantees from Washington for the revival of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA), and reiterated that the IAEA should drop its “politically motivated probes” of Tehran’s nuclear work.
During a visit to Moscow where he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Amir-Abdollahian said Tehran was “carefully” reviewing Washington’s response to an EU text for the revival of the nuclear agreement, which has been on the verge of collapse since former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States unilaterally in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions.
After 16 months of indirect talks between Tehran and Washington, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on August 8 that the EU had put forward a final offer to overcome an impasse for the revival of the agreement.
The IAEA has been probing the origins of nuclear material found at three undeclared Iranian sites.
Since the United States withdrew from the pact four years ago and started reimposing sanctions on Iran, Tehran has progressively rolled back its own commitments to the deal. The deal was designed to prevent Iran from building a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists its nuclear program is for civilian purposes only.
Amir-Abdollahian’s visit to Moscow follows a report by The Washington Post that Tehran has delivered a first shipment of Iranian-made combat drones to Russia.
Tehran last month denied U.S. claims about sending drones to Russia, which has invaded Ukraine.