Nuclear Watchdog Reports Escalating Iranian Uranium Production

In sobering news adding to rising Middle East tensions, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, has reported a significant escalation in Iran’s uranium enrichment activities. Iran has recently reversed its slowdown in uranium production and has now tripled its enrichment process to achieve 60% purity, moving ever closer to achieving weapons-grade levels.

This intensified production reported by IAEA has Iran producing uranium enriched as U-235 at a rapidly accelerated rate of approximately 9 kilograms per month at its Natanz and Fordow facilities.

The IAEA has intensified its monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program, particularly after the leading state sponsor of terrorism gradually abandoned the limits of the 2015 nuclear deal reached with the U.S. after the Trump administration imposed new and more harsh economic sanctions. With the Biden administration’s inability or unwillingness to effectively enforce the Trump-era sanctions, Tehran is becoming more aggressive and unconcerned about ramping up its uranium production.

The IAEA report shows that Iran’s current stockpile of enriched uranium is estimated to stand at approximately 3,800 kilograms. That far exceeds the limit of 202.8 kilograms agreed to with the U.S. in 2015.

Experts now express grave concerns that Iran’s enrichment process requires only some achievable technical steps to increase purity levels from 60% to the 90% threshold of being classified as “weapons-grade.” According to the IAEA, Iran’s current stockpile could produce three nuclear bombs if sufficiently enriched.

The Biden State Department now expresses grave concerns about the reported advances in Iranian nuclear production, stating there is “no credible civilian justification for enrichment up to 60%.”

Israel has also reacted with alarm at the news of Iran’s advances in nuclear production. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been vocal in his disapproval of any deals with Iran that do not require it to dismantle its nuclear infrastructure completely. Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, has also ominously warned that his nation might be compelled to act militarily if Iran enriches uranium above 60% purity.

The IAEA report also discussed Iran’s reduced cooperation with its oversight work. The agency indicates it has faced substantial challenges in monitoring and verifying Iran’s nuclear activities. It has been entirely unable to access surveillance footage from declared nuclear sites since February 2021.