The United Nations atomic watchdog has admitted it has not had access to key data about Iran’s nuclear program for more than three months.
Tehran began restricting international inspections of its nuclear facilities in February as part of an effort to press the Biden administration into lifting sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump after the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018. Under the terms of the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) placed around 2,000 tamper-proof seals on nuclear material and equipment. Those seals communicated information electronically to inspectors. Automated measuring devices also provided real-time data from the program.
However, the Associated Press, citing a confidential IAEA memo, reported Monday that the agency says it has not had access to data from the seals or measuring devices since Feb. 23.
As a result, the IAEA revealed, it could only provide an estimate of Iran’s overall nuclear stockpile as it continues to enrich uranium at its highest level ever. According to those estimates, Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile was 7,145 pounds, up about 600 pounds from the last quarterly report.
The 2015 deal, which was negotiated by the US, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, permits Iran only to keep a total stockpile 447 of pounds of enriched uranium. However, according to the IAEA, the current stockpile includes 138.5 pounds of uranium enriched up to 20% purity, and 5.3 pounds enriched up to 60% purity — well above the 3.67% purity allowed under the agreement.
Negotiations are ongoing in Vienna to see if both the U.S. and Iran can reenter the deal, which limited Tehran’s enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions and was meant to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, something it insists it doesn’t want to do.
Iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb, but nowhere near the amount it had before the nuclear deal was signed.
With Post wires