Aug 17, 2021 - World

Iran continues to produce uranium metal, UN atomic watchdog finds

he groundbreaking ceremony of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, held in Bushehr, Iran on November 10, 2019.

The groundbreaking ceremony of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, held in Bushehr, Iran, on Nov. 10, 2019. Photo: Fatemeh Bahrami/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Iran continues to produce uranium metal, which can be used in the creation of nuclear bombs, the United Nation’s atomic watchdog said Tuesday, AP reports.

Why it matters: The continued production of uranium metal further complicates any possible revival of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal, AP notes.

Driving the news: Producing uranium metal is prohibited by the 2015 nuclear deal — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — which gives Iran economic incentives for limits on its nuclear program.

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Tuesday that Iran has produced 200 grams of uranium metal enriched up to 20%, per AP.
  • The IAEA had said in February that inspectors confirmed that a plant in Iran produced 3.6 grams of uranium metal.
  • Iran maintains the uranium metal is for its civilian nuclear program, saying it is not interested in developing a nuclear bomb, AP reports.

The big picture: Iran has steadily increased its violations of JCPOA following the United States' withdrawal of the nuclear deal in 2018 under former President Trump. Tehran seeks incentives from other signatories to offset sanctions imposed by the United States, according to AP.

  • President Biden has expressed openness to rejoining the deal, but said that Iran needs to reinstate its restrictions, while Iran has said that the U.S. must drop all sanctions.

What they're saying: "Iran has no credible need to produce uranium metal, which has direct relevance to nuclear weapons development," U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement, per AP.

  • "Such escalations will not provide Iran negotiating leverage in any renewed talks on a mutual return to JCPOA compliance and will only lead to Iran’s further isolation," Price said.

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