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The International Atomic Energy Agency said that, as of earlier this month, Iran has accumulated a stockpile of enriched uranium more than 18 times the limit set out in the nuclear deal signed in 2015.
The deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), forbade Iran from exceeding 300 kg of a compound that translates to roughly 202.8 kg of uranium. As of May 15, the Islamic nation had amassed an estimated 3,809 kg of enriched uranium, the IAEA found, according to Agence France-Presse.
A new IAEA report noted that while the JCPOA also capped Iran’s uranium enrichment levels at 3.57% – 90% is needed for a nuclear weapon – Iran currently has 43.1 kg of uranium enriched to 60%, up 9.9 kg since March. They also have 238.4 kg of 20% enriched uranium, up 56.3 kg since March.
While Iran has denied that it is developing nuclear weapons and insisted that their program is peaceful in nature, the amount of uranium enriched to 60% now qualifies as what the IAEA deems a “significant quantity,” which the agency says is “the approximate amount of nuclear material for which the possibility of manufacturing a nuclear explosive device cannot be excluded.”
Earlier this month, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned that Iran was weeks away from having the necessary materials for a nuclear weapon.
The report comes at a time when discussions between the U.S. and Iran over a new nuclear agreement have stalled. The U.S. pulled out of the JCPOA under former President Donald Trump for reasons including the agreement’s limitations on ensuring long term prevention of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon and its failure to address certain issues such as Iran’s ballistic missile program.
Under President Biden, the U.S. has been looking into making a new deal with Iran, but the two sides are currently at an impasse over Iranian demands including the removal of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations. Last week, it was reported that the Biden administration will not agree to this.