UN atomic watchdog: Iran further raising nuclear stockpile


VIENNA (AP) — The United Nations’ atomic watchdog says it believes that Iran has further increased its stockpile of highly enriched uranium in breach of a 2015 accord with world powers.

The International Atomic Energy Agency told member nations in its confidential quarterly report Thursday that Iran has an estimated stock of 33.2 kilograms (73.1 pounds) of uranium enriched to up to 60% fissile purity, an increase of 15.5 kilograms since November.

Such highly enriched uranium can be easily refined to make atomic weapons, which is why world powers have sought to contain Tehran’s nuclear program.

The Vienna-based agency told members that it is still not able to verify Iran’s exact stockpile of enriched uranium due to the limitations that Tehran imposed on U.N. inspectors last year.

In a report to member states about its work in Iran, the agency said it estimates that as of Feb. 19, Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile was 3197.1 kilograms, an increase of 707.4 kilograms.

Senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia have been meeting with Iranian officials in Vienna since November to discuss bringing Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The pact eased sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

The United States pulled out of the accord under former President Donald Trump and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to resume its uranium enrichment.

The IAEA announced earlier Thursday that Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi will travel to Tehran for meetings with senior Iranian officials on Saturday.