Home News IAEA confirms that Iran has started producing 60% enriched uranium at its Fordo plant

IAEA confirms that Iran has started producing 60% enriched uranium at its Fordo plant

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Iran has started producing 60% enriched uranium at the Fordo underground fuel plant, in addition to its production started at Natanz since April 2021, confirmed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). ) this Tuesday, November 22. This is a new breach of its commitments decided after a critical resolution adopted by the agency.

Already, last year, Iran had announced that it had started producing 60% enriched uranium on the Natanz site (center), approaching the 90% needed to produce an atomic bomb. This 60% threshold greatly exceeds that of 3.67% set by the 2015 agreement between Tehran and the major powers aimed at preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

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Iran had agreed to freeze its enrichment activities at Fordo, an underground plant located 180 kilometers south of Tehran. The site had however been put back into service in 2019 and recently modified with a view to obtaining better efficiency.

“Production of 60% enriched uranium at Fordo began on Monday”the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami, announced on Tuesday, quoted by the Isna news agency. “We said that political pressure does not change anything and that the adoption of a resolution (at the IAEA) will provoke a serious reaction” from Iran, he added.

The IAEA has confirmed this new activity at Fordo and “will inform Iran of its intention to increase the frequency and intensity of its verification activities”said its general manager Rafael Grossi in a statement sent to AFP.

“Iran also plans a significant expansion of low-enriched uranium production” up to 20% “at Fordo”added the UN body, and installed “a second production building” in Nathanz.

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Retaliatory measures

The 2015 pact (JCPOA) offered Iran relief from international sanctions in exchange for guarantees that Tehran would not acquire atomic weapons, a goal that the Islamic Republic has always denied pursuing.

However, after the United States withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018 and the reinstatement of US sanctions that are stifling its economy, Tehran has gradually freed itself from its obligations. Iran thus initiated in January 2021 the process intended to produce 20% enriched uranium in the Fordo plant. Then in April 2021, it announced that it had started producing 60% enriched uranium at Natanz.

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On Sunday, Iran announced that it had taken retaliatory measures against the IAEA following a resolution criticizing Tehran’s lack of cooperation, presented by the United States and three European countries (United Kingdom, France and Germany ). This resolution voted last Thursday by the Board of Governors of the agency is the second this year, after that of June.

The reason for the disagreement at the origin of the two resolutions is the same: the absence of answers “technically credible” concerning traces of enriched uranium found at three undeclared sites.

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This file is one of the main points on which the negotiations started in April 2021 in Vienna to revive the 2015 agreement stumble. Tehran is calling for the IAEA’s investigation to be closed in order to reach a compromise.

“Deep concern”

On Tuesday, a White House spokesman, John Kirby, expressed the “deep concern” of the United States against “to the progress of the nuclear program” Iranian.

In a joint declaration, France, Germany and the United Kingdom condemned the extension which ” empty “ the 2015 Iran nuclear deal “of its content”.

Iran had announced on Sunday that the measures had been implemented the same day “in the presence of IAEA inspectors” at the Natanz and Fordo sites.

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“In a second action in response to the resolution, Iran injected gas into two more waterfalls [de centrifugeuses] IR-2m and IR-4 at the Natanz site »the Isna agency said on Tuesday.

Iran is enriching more and more at high levels, far from the fixed limit of 3.67%: it thus has 386.4 kg at 20% (compared to 331.9 kg previously) and 62.3 kg at 60% (against 55.6 kg). This ramp-up is also occurring as the IAEA faces a sharp restriction in its inspections.

A resumption of dialogue seems all the more difficult as Iran has been shaken by popular protest since the death on September 16 of a 22-year-old young woman, Mahsa Amini, who died after her arrest by the morality police.

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