Iran’s parliament on 2 November approved a bill requiring the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) to produce at least 120kg of 20% enriched uranium a year at its Fordow nuclear facility.

AEOI is required to start this process within two months and store the enriched uranium inside the country.

In January, Iran took its final step in reducing its commitments in line with the July 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under the JCPOA between the P5+1 group of countries (the USA, UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany), Iran had agreed to limit its nuclear development  in return for the lifting of sanctions. However, in May 2018, US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the JCPOA and reimposed stringent sanctions and Iran, in turn, began to reduce its commitments under the agreement.

The bill also requires AEOI to increase the enrichment capacity and production of enriched uranium to at least 500kg a month; start the installation of centrifuges, gas injection, enrichment and storage of materials up to "proper purity levels" within three months, via at least 1000 IR-2m centrifuges in the underground part of Shahid Ahmadi Roshan facility in Natanz; transfer any enrichment, research, and development operations of IR-6 centrifuges to the nuclear site of Shahid Ali Mohammadi in Fordow; start enrichment operation via at least 164 centrifuges and expand it to 1000 by the end of 20 March 2021 (the end of the Iranian calendar year).

The AEOI must also return the 40MW Arak heavy water reactor to its "pre-JCPOA condition" by reviving the calandria of the reactor within four months from the date of the adoption of this law. Under the JCPOA, Iran was redesigning the reactor to reduce its production of plutonium.

The law also requires the Iranian government to suspend regulatory access beyond the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol within two months after the adoption of the law. It calls for Iran to stop the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol if banking relations with Europe and the amount of oil purchases by the block does not return to normal. However, if the parties fulfil their undertakings, the government is required to submit a proposal to parliament for reciprocal action by Iran.

Earlier, on 28 October, IAEA confirmed that Iran, following a July explosion at the Natanz nuclear facility, had begun construction of a new underground centrifuge plant for uranium enrichment. "They started, but they haven't finished yet. It's a long process," IAEA director general Rafael Grossi Grossi said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Date: Friday, 06 November 2020
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