Despite Western countries saying there is no credible civilian use for it, Tehran has already made 200 grams of the metal, enriched to 20% purity.
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
In a further serious violation of the nuclear deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reported to its member states that Iran has succeeded in making a banned substance that Western countries say has no civilian use, according to a Reuters report published Tuesday.
“On 14 August 2021, the Agency verified … that Iran had used 257 g of uranium enriched up to 20% U-235 in the form of UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) to produce 200 g of uranium metal enriched up to 20% U-235,” the UN group wrote, according to Reuters.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry addressed the concerning IAEA report later on Tuesday, while urging the international community to “act now to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
“Iran continues on its path to a nuclear weapon, even as the regime installs an extreme government that includes ministers that are themselves personally sanctioned for nuclear proliferation,” the statement added.
Iran maintains that through its research it is trying to develop a new kind of fuel that can be used in nuclear reactors to produce electricity. However, the American government reacted negatively to the news.
“Iran has no credible need to produce uranium metal, which has direct relevance to nuclear weapons development,” said U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price in a statement. “Iran should cease its nuclear escalations and return to negotiations toward full implementation” of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that Iran signed with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany and the EU.
President Joe Biden wishes to return to the nuclear deal that the Trump administration walked away from in 2018, but talks stalled last month after six rounds of negotiations. Newly-installed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has given no indication that he wants them to continue. He is considered among the greatest hardliners of the regime, and has talked against the deal in the past.
Bloomberg reported last week that the U.S. is now considering suggesting an interim deal whereby only certain economic sanctions will be lifted in return for Iran freezing its most recent moves towards producing nuclear weapons. This would ostensibly include its production of uranium metal, as well as the enrichment of its renewed stockpile of the metal to near-military use levels.
The knowledge Iran has gained by its latest nuclear work cannot be unlearned, however, and this worries all of Iran’s opponents, including Israel. All Israeli governments have made it clear that they would not allow Iran to produce a nuclear weapon, which they consider an existential threat to the Jewish state.
Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.