UN’s nuclear watchdog agency says banned metal is another violation of the nuclear deal; pure uranium is “linked to nuclear weapons work.”
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The world’s nuclear watchdog agency says Iran has started producing pure uranium metal in a further violation of the 2015 nuclear deal designed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The newspaper saw a confidential report by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency that said Iran began producing uranium metal on Feb. 6 at its Isfahan nuclear site.
“The material can be used to form the core of nuclear weapons; Iran says it is producing it for research purposes,” the paper reported.
Looking to increase pressure on the Biden administration, which previously said it wanted to return the U.S. to the nuclear deal abandoned by President Donald Trump in 2018, Iran last month announced it started enriching uranium to 20% purity, far beyond what is need for civilian uses.
The IAEA reported that only a small amount of natural uranium metal has been produced so far and came after Tehran said in December it could start producing uranium metal within five months.
Although Iran repeatedly says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, a senior Iranian official said earlier this week that if pressured, Iran would indeed produce nuclear weapons.
“Our nuclear industry is peaceful and the fatwa of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution has declared nuclear weapons forbidden, but if they push the Islamic Republic of Iran in that direction, it is no longer the fault of Iran but the fault of those who pushed Iran,” Minister of Information Mahmoud Alavi said in comments reported by Iranian news agencies.
That comment seemed to bear out the Wall Street Journal report.
“The production of uranium metal is more clearly linked to nuclear weapons work since it has few civilian purposes,” the report said. “Iran was banned from producing it for 15 years under the 2015 agreement.”
Although President Joe Biden said he wanted to bring the U.S. back into the nuclear deal, the Americans are adamant that Iran had to first stop its violations of the deal. The Iranians are just as firm that they will not do that until the U.S. drops all the sanctions imposed on the Iranian regime.
Iran gave Feb. 21 as a deadline to start lifting the sanctions imposed during the Trump administration or it will begin restricting IAEA inspectors from inspecting its nuclear sites.
“The President’s been very clear about this,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday. “If Iran returns to compliance with its obligations under the nuclear agreement, we would do the same thing, and then we would work with our allies and partners to try to build a longer and stronger agreement and also bring in some of these other issues, like Iran’s missile program, like its destabilizing actions in the region that need to be addressed as well.
“So the first thing that’s so critical is for Iran to come back into compliance with its obligations. They’re a ways from that. But if they do that, the path of diplomacy is there, and we’re willing to walk it,” Blinken said.