Iran continues to comply with the terms of its nuclear deal with world powers, despite a US withdrawal from the landmark pact, according to the United Nations' atomic watchdog. In a quarterly report distributed to member states on Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said the Islamic Republic had kept to the caps placed on its uranium enrichment levels and enriched uranium stocks as part of the deal, signed in 2015 in Austria's capital, Vienna. IAEA inspectors were given access to all sites in the country requiring a visit to verify Iran's ongoing compliance with the restrictions, the report said. "The production rate [of enriched uranium] is constant. There is no change whatsoever," a senior diplomat told reporters.
GENEVA - Iran has sent a large batch of mined uranium "yellow cake" for processing ahead of shipment to its main enrichment facility, Iran's state news agency reported on Wednesday in the latest sign of plans to step up its atomic activities. Yellow cake, or uranium ore, can be further processed into enriched uranium to make fuel for nuclear power plants, Iran's stated aim, or to provide material for atomic bombs if refined much more, which the West fears may be the Islamic Republic's ultimate goal. U.S.-Iranian tensions have resurged since President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the 2015 nuclear accord, calling it deeply flawed. Under the deal, Iran restricted its enrichment program to ease concerns it could not be put to developing nuclear weapons and in return won relief from sanctions. Thirty tons of yellow cake from a production plant in the city of Ardakan in central Iran was sent to a uranium conversion facility in Isfahan on Wednesday, the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported.
Secretary of State John Kerry is defending the deal the United States made with Iran to prevent it from becoming a nuclear power. But Kerry acknowledges harsh criticism of the arrangement, telling MSNBC there's a furious debate even in Iran over whether Tehran should choose missiles over dialogue. The secretary says, "I think what you're seeing there is tension" between moderates and hard-liners over Iran's future course. Kerry adds that Iran "needs to make some clear decisions about the role that it intends to play in the region and the world." The administration has come under harsh criticism from Republicans who argue the United States was taken advantage of in the deal to ensure that Tehran doesn't become a nuclear power.
After the Trump administration announced its sanctions in May, Iran set a two-month deadline for the European signatories to come up with a strategy to ease the economic impact. Iran began to surpass the enrichment limits on Sunday because the Europeans had not provided any help, and Tehran set another 60-day deadline before it will take further steps beyond the limits in the 2015 deal. Less than 1 percent of naturally occurring uranium is U-235, a highly radioactive isotope, and enrichment means increasing that level. The 2015 agreement limited Iran to producing uranium that is no more than 3.67 percent U-235, a typical level of enrichment for use in a nuclear power plant. Before the pact was signed, Iran had raised some of its uranium stockpile to 20 percent, which it said was needed for a research reactor.
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Iran has decided not to attend a United Nations conference on nuclear energy being held in the United Arab Emirates. Seats for an Iranian delegation sat empty on Monday at the conference being held in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. Iranian authorities could not be immediately reached for comment. Yukiya Amano, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, avoided speaking about Iran in his address at the conference. Amano visited Tehran on Sunday.