IAEA: Iran now enriching uranium via new centrifuges

The revelations about the new centrifuges and additional uranium stockpiling come on the backdrop of a tense period between the U.S. and Iran.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

A report from the U.N nuclear watchdog group the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed Thursday that Iran is now enriching uranium via a new batch of advanced underground centrifuges, in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

“On 31 March 2021, the Agency verified at FEP that: Iran had begun feeding natural UF6 into a fourth cascade of 174 IR-2m centrifuges,” the IAEA wrote in a report obtained by Reuters.

According to the terms of the nuclear deal, Iran is permitted to enrich using only first-generation IR-1 centrifuges at its underground Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) near the city of Natanz.

But in 2020, reports emerged that Iran had obtained new, advanced centrifuges and had capabilities to enrich much more quickly than if they had abided by the deal and used the IR-1.

“…The Agency verified that Iran was using 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges installed in 30 cascades, 696 IR-2m centrifuges installed in four cascades and 174 IR-4 centrifuges installed in one cascade to enrich natural UF6 up to 5% U-235 at FEP,” the report continued.

In late February, an AP report revealed that Iran had added some 38.8 pounds (17.6 kilograms) of up to 20% enriched uranium to its stockpile. In 2015, Iran had agreed to only enrich up to 3.67% purity.

The revelations about the new centrifuges and additional uranium stockpiling come on the backdrop of a tense period between the U.S. and Iran.

President Joe Biden campaigned on the idea that he would reverse former president Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal.

Biden said reentering the deal would be a priority for the U.S. But the two nations have been reticent to reach out first in an attempt to salvage the deal.

Iran has previously rejected three offers from the U.S. to return to the negotiating table.