A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) revealed that Iran’s stockpile of nuclear fuel has grown 20 percent since the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action agreement between the Islamic Republic and the West, The New York Times reported today. The report raises questions over how Iran could come into compliance with the likely terms of a final deal.
A major element of the forthcoming deal, if it is completed, permits Iran to maintain a stockpile of only 300 kilograms, or about 660 pounds, of nuclear fuel, less than would be needed to make a single weapon.
That means Iran, which insists its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, would have to rid itself of more than nine tons of its stockpile in a matter of months. One easy solution would be to ship the fuel out of the country, but that is a politically fraught topic for the Iranians — and one that their deputy negotiator, Abbas Araqchi, ruled out in March.
The Times explained that it will be up to the White House to certify to Congress over the next decade that any agreement has lengthened Iran’s breakout time to at least a year. Breakout time is determined by “a complex calculation in which the size of Iran’s stockpile is a major factor.”
The Institute for Science and International Security issued its own analysis (.pdf) of the IAEA report, noting that the IAEA also revealed another challenge to reducing Iran’s nuclear stockpile. Much of Iran’s near 20% Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) in is liquid or solid scrap form. Iran has built lines for recovering LEU from scrap, though it has not started the process. “Iran moving to institute a scrap recovery capability poses a challenge to the extension agreements of the Joint Plan of Action,” the Institute warned.
The IAEA noted in its report Friday that without Iran’s cooperation, it cannot “conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
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