Iran’s high-level enrichment at the Natanz plant is expanding, the IAEA says


FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag flies in front of the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ahead of the start of a Board of Governors meeting amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Vienna, Austria, March 1, 2021. REUTERS / Lisi Niesner / File Photo

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran is expanding its uranium enrichment beyond the highly enriched threshold of 20% purity at a facility in Natanz where it is already being enriched to 60%, but the new activity does not include keeping the product, the UN said Nuclear watchman on Monday.

The move will likely help Iran refine its knowledge of the enrichment process – something Western powers generally condemn for being irreversible – but since the product is not collected this time around, it will be Iranian production of uranium, which is almost is enriched in weapons, do not accelerate immediately. Degree.

However, this has prompted the International Atomic Energy Agency to “increase the frequency and intensity of their safety activities” at the above-ground pilot fuel enrichment facility (PFEP) in Natanz, the IAEA said in a report by Reuters. From around 90%, uranium is considered weapons-grade.

The IAEA said in a statement outlining the report that Iran notified them last week of changes to the facility of centrifuges, uranium enrichment machines, at the facility – Iran would convert up to 20% enriched uranium into one Feed limited number of additional centrifuges without collecting the product.

“On October 25, 2021, the agency confirmed that Iran had begun feeding up to 20% U-235 enriched uranium hexafluoride gas into a single IR-6 centrifuge on R&D line 2 at PFEP and that the resulting Product and residual flows recombined, ”the IAEA report states, which means that the enriched product was mixed with the centrifuge waste after separation and was not stored.

Iran had announced that it would also feed up to 20% uranium enriched to other single centrifuges or small to medium-sized cascades or machine clusters on the same line, but these were not fed at the time, according to the IAEA.

Iran has not yet announced a date for resuming discussions in Vienna on reviving the 2015 Atomic Compact in which it curtailed its nuclear program in return for easing US, EU and UN economic sanctions.

The then US President Donald Trump abandoned the pact in 2018 and again imposed tough US sanctions. About a year later, Iran began violating some of the boundaries of the uranium enrichment agreement.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Chris Reese and Nick Macfie


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