United Nations watchdog confirms further violation of Iran nuclear deal

The United Nations atomic watchdog confirmed on Thursday that Iran had informed it that the country had started installing equipment for the production of uranium metal, which would constitute another violation of the landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

Iran maintains that its research and development plans for the production of uranium metal are part of its stated goal of designing an improved type of fuel, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said.

However, uranium metal can also be used for a nuclear bomb, and research into its production is specifically prohibited in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action signed with world powers in 2015.

The ultimate goal of the deal is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, which Iran insists it does not 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.

IAEA inspectors visited the Isfahan plant where Iran announced its intention to conduct the research on January 10, and officials were informed by Tehran on January 13 that the modification and installation of the ‘equipment relevant to the mentioned R&D activities had already started,’ the agency said.

Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Kazem Gharibabadi reiterated this in a tweet on Wednesday, adding that natural uranium will be used to produce uranium metal in the first stage.

He told the official Iranian news agency IRNA that the move would elevate Iran to the level of progressive nations in the production of new fuels. It was the latest in a string of JCPOA violations Iran has committed since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018, saying it had to be renegotiated.

Tehran used the violations to pressure other signatories, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia, to push Iran further to compensate for crippling US sanctions reimposed after the exit. of the United States of the agreement.

President-elect Joe Biden, who was vice president when the JCPOA was negotiated, said he hoped to bring the United States back to the deal.

Britain, France and Germany, however, said last week that Iran risked jeopardizing diplomatic chances with Washington after Tehran announced another violation that it began enriching uranium at 20. % purity, a technical step away from military grade levels of 90 percent. hundred.

The foreign ministers of the three European nations then declared in a joint statement that Iranian activity had no credible civilian justification. They said the enrichment was a blatant violation of the deal and further hollowed out the deal.

Germany’s foreign ministry made no immediate comment on Thursday, but the announcement of uranium metal production now further complicates the attempt to re-enter Washington.

Those working to save the deal also note that despite the violations, Iran continues to allow inspectors access to all sites in the country.

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