U.N. atomic watchdog reports new Iranian breach of nuclear deal
VIENNA / PARIS (Reuters) – The United Nations nuclear watchdog reported a new violation by Iran of its nuclear deal with major powers on Friday the day those powers met to revive the deal. This revealed a report by the agency seen by Reuters that would likely create tension with Western powers.
The International Atomic Energy Agency avoids saying that Iran has violated the agreement. At the same time, such ad hoc reports are usually only issued to the Member States in the event of a breach. Two diplomats told Reuters that the report described in the report was a new breach.
The violation has to do with what officially counts for Iran’s enriched uranium reserves. This is a highly sensitive issue as this stash could be further enriched with weapons grade material suitable for nuclear bombs if Iran so wishes. She denies the search for such weapons and says her goals are completely peaceful.
Upon entering into the agreement in 2015, the parties determined what would apply to inventory and excluded items such as scrap fuel plates containing uranium that were enriched with a fission purity of nearly 20% and classified as “unrecoverable”. However, Friday’s report said Iran had recovered some of this material.
“On April 7, 2021, the agency checked at the fuel plate production plant in Esfahan that Iran had dissolved six unirradiated scrap fuel plates for the TRR (Tehran Research Reactor) with 0.43 kg of uranium enriched with up to 20% U-235 . ” Report said.
“A uranyl nitrate solution was extracted and converted to ammonium uranyl carbonate,” the report said, adding that Iran aimed to further process it to produce molybdenum, which has many civilian uses, including medical imaging.
The amount of enriched uranium extracted, while small, is a renewed breach at a delicate stage as Tehran and the United States have indirect discussions in Vienna on how to fully get back to business.
After talks between the remaining parties to the deal signed on Friday, the French Foreign Ministry said a “positive” first week of negotiations should not be undermined by new Iranian provocations.
“In this context, it is all the more important that Iran does not undertake any further violations of its nuclear obligations that could undermine the current momentum,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters.
David Albright, former UN weapons inspector and hawk in Iran, said the recent breach also raises questions about which major powers are excluded from the enriched uranium supply.
“In retrospect, it was probably not a good idea to exclude this nearly 20% enriched uranium scrap,” he said, explaining what scrap means in this case: “When enriched uranium is made into fuel plates, some of them are not used, much like dough for a cake. “
Reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna and John Irish in Paris; Letter from Francois Murphy; Adaptation by Matthew Lewis