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Iran defies Western powers with work on near weapons-grade uranium -Breaking


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO – The Iranian flag is waved in front the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA), in Vienna, Austria, May 23, 2021, during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo

By Francois Murphy

VIENNA (Reuters – Iran has defied Western countries by converting some uranium enriched at near-weapons-grade into a form more easily recoverable, diluted, and shipped out, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report on Wednesday revealed.

Although it is unlikely that the move will endanger indirect talks between Iran, the United States and revive the 2015 Iran Nuclear Deal, it will be difficult to implement any agreement to reduce Iran’s stockpile of enriched Uranium.

U.S. allies France, Britain and Germany, which are involved in the talks, said as much in a joint statement issued last Tuesday in which they demanded that Iran not carry out the work.

They stated that Iran should not engage in any further escalations, and they called upon Iran in particular to cease conversion of high-enriched uranium. This will result in practical consequences for the return to JCPoA limit,” the statement said.

Diplomats claim that the agreement is close to completion. It would force Iran to dispose of any uranium above its limit of purity of 3.67%. Nearly 60% of Iran’s most highly-enriched uranium are close to 90%, and the Iranian government has approximately 33kg (73 lb) of this grade.

Iran’s stock uranium was only up to 60% until its recent action, last Thursday’s International Atomic Energy Agency Report to Member States. The hexafluoride may be easily diluted and transferred, something that delegates have discussed for several months.

Reuters saw the confidential report. The IAEA summarized it in a brief statement. They stated that Iran had transformed 2.1 kg (4.6 lb), up to 60% uranium from March 6 to March 9, into 1.7 kg (3.8 lb) in a new form enriched to the level that was suitable for small “targets”, for irradiation.

Radiating targets like these produces molybdenum 99, which is a medical radioisotope. This medical isotope can be used to produce another medical imaging tool. The target’s highly-enriched uranium remains, which must be extracted.

According to IAEA, Iran’s 32 targets contained a total 186.7g (6.6 ounces), of uranium upped up to 60 percent. Iran also declared that they were all irradiated later.

According to the report, Iran then produced 56 additional targets totaling 329g (11.6 ounces), of uranium enhanced at the same level.

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