The United Nations nuclear watchdog announced on Tuesday that Iran has resumed enriching uranium to a purity of up to 60%, close to that of weapons-grade material, after a months-long lull.
Numerous diplomats held the opinion that the deceleration, which commenced in June, was attributable to clandestine negotiations between America and Iran that culminated in the liberation of American nationals detained in Iran earlier this year.
Iran currently possesses a quantity of uranium enriched to 60 percent, which, if further enriched, is sufficient to produce three nuclear weapons as defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), with the potential for more at lower enrichment levels. Iran refutes any intention of acquiring nuclear weapons.
According to the IAEA, Iran has “reversed a previous output reduction of highly enriched uranium since mid-2023,” as stated in a confidential report sent to member states earlier, observed by Reuters.
Iran is enriching fuel at its Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant in the expansive Natanz complex and its Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant, buried in a mountain, to a maximum of 60%, near the approximately 90% that is weapons grade.
Iran Resumes Enriching Uranium to 60% Despite Previous Slowdown
The IAEA reported that since the slowdown, these facilities have been augmenting uranium by approximately three kilograms per month, or by as much as sixty percent.
“The agency confirms that Iran’s monthly production of uranium enriched to 60 percent U-235 at these two facilities has increased to approximately 9 kilograms since the end of November 2023,” the report to member states stated.
By the IAEA’s theoretical definition, it is impossible to rule out the possibility of constructing a nuclear weapon using approximately 42 kilograms of uranium enriched to 60 percent.
The report states that IAEA inspectors initially noted a modification in production at Fordow on November 25. Iran subsequently confirmed that the modification was implemented on November 22 and that production had resumed to pre-slowdown levels.
On November 27, inspectors noted a rise in the rate of production at Natanz, the report continued. The IAEA subsequently confirmed the quantity generated at Natanz on December 19 and Fordow on December 24. The IAEA did not formally communicate the reversal of the delay to its member states until it released the report on Tuesday.