Iran takes steps to make enriched uranium metal
Iran has begun the process of producing enriched uranium metal, the U.N. atomic watchdog said on July 6, a move that could help it develop a nuclear weapon and that three European powers said threatened talks to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Iran's steps, which were disclosed by the International Atomic Energy Agency and which Tehran said aimed to develop fuel for a research reactor, also drew criticism from the United States, which called them an "unfortunate step backwards."
U.S. and European officials made clear that Iran's decision would complicate, and potentially torpedo, indirect U.S.-Iranian talks seeking to bring both nations back into compliance with the 2015 deal, which was abandoned by former President Donald Trump.
The deal imposed curbs on Iran's nuclear programme to make it harder for Tehran to develop fissile material for nuclear weapons in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. After Trump withdrew, Iran began violating many of the restrictions.
Tehran has already produced a small amount of uranium metal this year that was not enriched. That is a breach of the deal, which bans all work on uranium metal since it can be used to make the core of a nuclear bomb.
"Today, Iran informed the Agency that UO2 (uranium oxide) enriched up to 20% U-235 would be shipped to the RD laboratory at the Fuel Fabrication Plant in Esfahan, where it would be converted to UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) and then to uranium metal enriched to 20% U-235, before using it to manufacture the fuel," an IAEA statement said.
A confidential IAEA report seen by Reuters said the agency had confirmed that Iran had taken steps to begin the process of producing enriched uranium metal.
Britain, France and Germany said on Tuesday...
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