Iran ramps up uranium enrichment amid IAEA inspector spat

iran nuclear enrichment
Photo: AFP

Regulators from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will inspect Iran’s Fordow nuclear facility today.

In defiance of the 2015 nuclear agreement, Iran began enriching uranium at the Fordow site this week. If uranium enrichment reaches Tehran’s target of 4.5% radioactive material today, Iran will need to increase enrichment by just 0.5% to manufacture fuel for nuclear plants. However, this is still far below the 90% uranium enrichment level needed to build nuclear weapons.

Iran cancelled an IAEA inspector’s accreditation last week after she claim to have found traces of explosive nitrates before entered the Natanz nuclear plant. Today’s inspection also comes a fortnight after the US announced new sanctions on Iranian military and nuclear construction material. In response, Tehran gave the nuclear deal’s remaining signatories another two months to circumvent US sanctions, which have curbed Iranian oil sales by some 80%.

With the deal’s signatories unwilling to defy sanctions and compromise their relations with the US, expect Paris to urge Washington to ease its sanctions regime. However, as long as Iran and the US continue to flout the nuclear deal, progress is unlikely.

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