Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Iran feeding uranium gas into advanced centrifuges underground - IAEA

IAEA director-general Rafael Grossi listens as head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali-Akbar Salehi delivers his speech at the opening of the IAEA General Conference at their headquarters in Vienna, Austria September 21, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/LEONHARD FOEGER)

Iran has begun feeding uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas feedstock into the advanced IR-2m uranium-enriching centrifuges installed at its underground plant in Natanz nuclear facility, according to a UN nuclear watchdog report obtained by Reuters on Wednesday. 

The move is the latest nuclear standoff escalation by Iran with the US, Israel and their allies. According to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic can only accumulate enriched uranium with first-generation IR-1 machines, which are the only ones it can operate at the underground plant. The Obama-era deal is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 

 A previous International Atomic Energy Agency report said that Iran had installed IR-2m machines underground. “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 International Atomic Energy Agency report to member states said dated Tuesday.

Until Iran’s new breach on Wednesday, it was unclear whether Tehran had taken the incoming Biden administration into account with its moves at Natanz. The last report about Iranian violations there came out after Biden was announced as winning the US presidential election, but was based on a November 2 visit – meaning the day before US Election Day. READ MORE