UN Agency Finds Iran Abiding by Deal, but Has a Concern

Watchdog questions centrifuge use
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 31, 2019 4:30 PM CDT
UN Watchdog Questions Iran's Centrifuge Use
A 2018 image from state-run TV in Iran shows three versions of domestically built centrifuges.   (IRIB via AP, File)

The UN atomic watchdog said Friday that Iran continues to stay within the limitations set by the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers. But the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that stockpiles of low-enriched uranium and heavy water are growing, and it raised questions for the first time about Iran's adherence to a provision intended to limit use of advanced centrifuges. In a confidential quarterly report to member states and seen by the AP, the agency said Iran is within limits in the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for uranium and heavy water stockpiles. But the IAEA said before that Iran's research and development on enrichment "has been conducted using centrifuges within the limits defined in the JCPOA"; the Friday report changed the wording to "has been conducted using centrifuges specified in the JCPOA."

A centrifuge is a device that enriches uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas. Iran has been limited to operating 5,060 older-model IR-1 centrifuges. In a footnote, the agency said that "up to 33" more advanced IR-6 centrifuges have been installed, and that "technical discussions in relation to the IR-6 centrifuges are ongoing." Iran is allowed to test no more than 30 of the IR-6, but only 8½ years into the deal. Iran maintains that it is allowed to install the centrifuges. The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said they were not yet being fed with uranium. A senior diplomat said technical discussions on the centrifuges were between the deal's signatories and Iran, but would not elaborate. The diplomat said last month that Iran had begun installing a chain of 20 IR-6 centrifuges at its underground Natanz enrichment facility.

(Read more Iran stories.)

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