The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has verified that Iran is feeding uranium hexafluoride (UF6) into a recently installed cascade of 174 IR-2M centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) in Natanz. France, Germany and the UK - the E3 - warned yesterday that Iran's further violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) were "hollowing out" core non-proliferation benefits of the 2015 nuclear deal.

(Image: R Kay/Pixabay)

The E3 was responding to the IAEA Board of Governors following the agency's latest update to governments on its verification and monitoring of Iran's implementation of its nuclear-related commitments. The IAEA's three latest Verification and monitoring in the Islamic Republic of Iran in light of United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) reports have today been derestricted.
According to the IAEA reports, Iran has continued the enrichment of UF6 at the FEP and the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) at Natanz, and at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) at Fordow. As of 2 November, Iran's total enriched uranium stockpile, comprising enriched uranium produced at FEP, PFEP and FFEP stood at 2442.9 kg. Under the JCPoA, Iran's stockpile should not exceed 300 kg of UF6, which corresponds to 202.8 kg of uranium. The IAEA said Iran has since July 2019 enriched uranium to 4.5%, which is above the 3.67% enrichment limit set by the JCPoA.

"On 14 November 2020, the agency verified that Iran began feeding UF6 into the recently installed cascade of 174 IR-2M centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) in Natanz," the IAEA reported on 17 November. "As a consequence, Iran is using 5060 IR-1 centrifuges installed in 30 cascades and 174 IR-2M centrifuges installed in one cascade to enrich UF6 at FEP." Under the terms of the JCPoA, only IR-1 centrifuges may be installed at the FEP for enrichment purposes and their number is limited to no more than 5060. Enrichment R&D must only be carried out in the PFEP and not in the FEP.

The E3 countries reiterated their continued commitment to the preservation and full implementation of the nuclear agreement. "We E3 have worked hard to preserve the agreement. We have been consistently clear that we regret the US withdrawal from the JCPoA and re-imposition of US sanctions. We have lifted sanctions as foreseen by the JCPoA and taken additional efforts to allow Iran to pursue legitimate trade, by developing the financial mechanism INSTEX," they said.

"However, despite these good faith efforts, Iran has engaged, for a year and a half now, in numerous, serious violations of its nuclear commitments. We continue to be extremely concerned by Iran's actions, which are hollowing out the core non-proliferation benefits of the deal."

The group expressed concern at Iran enriching uranium above the 3.67% JCPoA limit, and the continued growth of its low-enriched uranium stockpile; its continued R&D on types of advanced centrifuges not permitted under the JCPoA including the operation of IR-2M, IR-4 and IR-6 centrifuges plus the introduction of new types of unauthorised centrifuges; and Iran's announcement of its intention to install advanced centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz.

"The IAEA report confirms this process has already started: one full cascade of IR-2M centrifuges is now installed at the FEP, as well as some IR-4 centrifuges," the E3 said, noting the IAEA's report that the process of feeding the IR-2M cascade with uranium hexafluoride has begun.

The E3 described Iran's decision to change the location of its research R&D activities and increasing the overall number of centrifuges installed at the FEP as "a matter of deep concern". The FEP has space for thousands of additional centrifuges, and moving advanced centrifuges to such a space "raises serious concerns about Iranian intent," it said.

"We urge Iran not to proceed with the installation of advanced centrifuges at the Fuel Enrichment Plant, and its plans to move its R&D facility to the FEP," the E3 said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Friday, 20 November 2020
Original article: