Iran has gone further in breaching its nuclear deal by increasing its stock of enriched uranium and refining it to greater purity than allowed, says the UN’s nuclear watchdog. According to a quarterly report released on Friday (August 30) by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Tehran is progressively backing out of the Iran nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
This is in retaliation against Washington’s withdrawal from the deal and the subsequent renewal of sanctions that have weakened Iranian oil sales. The IAEA report said Iran was enriching uranium to 4.5% purity with a stockpile of 241.6 kg of enriched uranium – up from 213.5 kg in July. The limit agreed upon in the Iran nuclear deal of 2015 was 202.8 kg with a fissile purity of 3.67%. However, Tehran’s stock is still a fraction of the tonnes it possessed before the deal and at a much lower enrichment level than the 20% it once was. A level of 90% is required to make nuclear weapons.
This means these breaches have not made much difference to the time required to create a nuclear bomb. The JCPOA extended that time to about a year from the original time frame of just a few months. Iran has threatened to accelerate the progress after September 6th which it says could include enriching to 20% or restarting centrifuges that enrich uranium. US President Donald Trump has offered to hold talks with the country but Tehran demands relief from Washington-imposed sanctions before this happens.
Iranian oil tanker
The Adrian Darya 1, a tanker at the centre of a standoff between Washington and Tehran was headed to Lebanon’s waters but the United States later said the ship was sailing to Syria. According to tracking data from Refinitiv, the ship has changed course several times but, as of Friday, is headed for Turkey’s Iskenderun port, 200km north of Syria’s Baniyas refinery. When the Adrian Darya 1 was released from Gibraltar in mid-August, Iran assured Britain that the cargo was not headed for Syria. The latest change of course raises the possibility that a ship-to-ship transfer of cargo could take place once the tanker nears Lebanon’s coast. Euronews.