Iran accelerates enrichment of uranium
June 11, 2019 -- The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, says Iran is increasing its uranium enrichment activities, following through on a threat to ignore limits on stockpiling materials agreed to in a 2015 deal with world powers.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said Iran’s low-enriched uranium “production rate is increasing,” but it wasn’t clear yet whether it has exceeded the limitations set in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
The 2015 nuclear deal was designed to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons in exchange for economic incentives. But the decision by President Donald Trump to pull the U.S. out and to increase sanctions on Iran has taken a toll on the Iranian economy and left the other countries involved – Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – struggling to find ways to keep the accord alive.
Amano said Tehran’s decision on May 8 to give those countries 60 days to come up with a plan to shield Iran from American sanctions had heightened tensions. If no plan emerges, Tehran said it would ramp up its enrichment of uranium beyond the purity allowed under the nuclear deal.
Following the May 8 announcement, Tehran said it had increased its uranium-enrichment production capacity, though only of the lower-enriched uranium permitted by the agreement.