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Iran enhances its ability on uranium enrichment — IAEA

Iran is rapidly expanding its
ability to enrich uranium with advanced centrifuges at its
underground plant at Natanz and now intends to go further than
previously planned, a confidential UN nuclear watchdog report
seen by Reuters has shown.

While indirect talks between Iran and the United States on
reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have stalled, Tehran has
brought onstream an ever larger number of advanced centrifuges
the deal bans it from using to produce enriched uranium.

These machines are far more efficient than the
first-generation IR-1, the only centrifuge that the deal lets
Iran use to grow its stock of enriched uranium. 

Iran has been
adding them at two underground sites at Natanz and
Fordow, which may be designed to withstand potential aerial

The third of three cascades, or clusters, of advanced
IR-6 centrifuges recently installed at the underground Fuel
Enrichment Plant (FEP) at Natanz has now come onstream, said the
International Atomic Energy Agency report to member states.
Diplomats say the IR-6 is Iran’s most advanced centrifuge.

Iran has also quickly completed the installation of seven
cascades that were either not finished or at a very early stage
of installation on August 31, Monday’s ad hoc report showed.
August marked the last visit by inspectors mentioned in the
IAEA’s most recent quarterly report.

Those seven cascades, one of IR-4 centrifuges and six of
IR-2m machines, were fully installed but not yet enriching,
Monday’s report said.

READ MORE: Iran’s Raisi: US ‘trampled upon’ nuclear accord with world powers

Centrifuges in Natanz still produce uranium

Iran has also informed the IAEA it plans to add an extra
three cascades of IR-2m machines at the FEP, on top of the 12
already announced and now installed, the report showed.

Of those three extra IR-2m cascades, installation has
already started on two of them, the report said.

The report also showed that all the centrifuges enriching at
Natanz were still producing uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas
enriched to up to 5 percent but now they were being fed with natural
UF6. That contrasted to the quarterly report issued in September
that said on August 31 the centrifuges were being fed with UF6
enriched to up to 2 percent. It did not explain the change.

In 2018, then-president Donald Trump pulled the United
States out of the Iran deal and re-imposed sanctions against
Iran that the deal had lifted. 

Iran responded by breaching the
restrictions on its nuclear activities imposed by the deal.

If the deal is revived Iran will have to put its advanced centrifuges into storage, diplomats say.

READ MORE: Iran: ‘Ready to cooperate’ with UN nuclear watchdog

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