Iran expands uranium enrichment in new breach of nuclear deal | News | DW | 26.09.2019

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Iran expands uranium enrichment in new breach of nuclear deal

Iran has been accumulating, or has been prepared to accumulate, enriched uranium, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a new report.

Iran has committed an additional breach of its nuclear deal with major powers by enriching uranium with advanced centrifuges, and plans to install more of those advanced machines than previously announced, a UN nuclear watchdog report showed on Thursday.

"On 25 September 2019, the Agency verified that all of the (centrifuge) cascades already installed in R&D lines 2 and 3...were accumulating, or had been prepared to accumulate, enriched uranium," the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in its report.

Read more: Iran violates nuclear deal — what comes next?

Those lines include relatively small cascades of up to 20 centrifuges. The global nuclear watchdog said Iran is still in the process of installing two previously announced 164-machine cascades of the IR-4 and IR-2m models, two cascades that were removed under the 2015 international nuclear agreement between Tehran and major world powers.

The IAEA had reported in early September that Iran was installing additional advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium, but without actually using the chemical that can be refined into reactor fuel or warheads.

Restrictions on Iran's nuclear program

Expanding enrichment

In its latest update, the Vienna-based nuclear agency said that actual enrichment was being prepared for or had even already started with these machines. In addition, IAEA inspectors in Iran verified that Iran has pushed ahead with preparations to install more than 300 additional next-generation centrifuges that can refine uranium more efficiently.

Read more: Why Trump shouldn't run the North Korea playbook on Iran

The IAEA report came one day after the United States slapped Iran with additional sanctions and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the US must lift all sanctions to clear the way for new talks on a nuclear deal.

The international deal signed by Tehran and world powers in 2015 called for Iran to curtail its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions against the country. US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear agreement last year and reimposed sanctions. European governments have attempted to salvage the accord, but those efforts have so far proved insufficient.

Iran denies ever having sought to build a nuclear bomb and says its uranium enrichment program is only for civilian purposes, but the US and IAEA believe Tehran once had a nuclear weapons program that it had closed down. 

sri/sms (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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