Iran denies enriching uranium to 84 percent purity amid IAEA row

Iran denies enriching uranium to 84 percent purity amid IAEA row
# 20 February 2023 12:48 (UTC +04:00)

Iran has denied that it has intentionally enriched uranium to a purity of 84 percent amid ongoing issues with the global nuclear watchdog and disagreements over its 2015 nuclear deal.

US-based financial news agency Bloomberg reported on Sunday that inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had found uranium enriched to a purity of 84 percent — just below the 90 percent required for a bomb — and are trying to determine if it was produced intentionally.

This is the highest purity uranium ever found in Iran, which has gradually boosted its enrichment since 2019, one year after the unilateral withdrawal of the United States from its nuclear deal with world powers, and has declared enrichment up to 60 percent. Iranian officials have said that they are not seeking a nuclear weapon.

“The IAEA is aware of recent media reports relating to uranium enrichment levels in Iran,” the agency wrote on Twitter early on Monday. “Director General @rafaelmgrossi is discussing with Iran the results of recent Agency verification activities and will inform the IAEA Board of Governors as appropriate.”

Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, told the state-linked Fars news website late on Sunday that particles with a purity of higher than 60 percent had been found by inspectors, but that had happened before and was nothing out of the ordinary.

“The existence of a uranium particle or particles with a purity of over 60 percent in the enrichment process does not mean that there has been enrichment over 60 percent,” he said.

“This is something very natural which can even occur as a result of a decrease in the feed of centrifuge cascades at the moment. What matters is the final product, and the Islamic Republic of Iran has so far not tried to enrich over 60 percent.”

According to Kamalvandi, an issue like this was not something the agency would even report to its member states, so the fact that it has been leaked to Western media showed it was an effort towards “smearing and warping facts”.

The spokesperson also repeated Iranian accusations that the agency was being used as a “political tool” to pressure Iran with confidential reports previously leaked to media in Western countries.