Iran Caught Increasing Near-Weapons-Grade Uranium Production

The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran has reversed a slowdown early this year and increased its uranium enrichment to more than double its previous level.

According to the study, Iran is enriching their uranium at a much-increased level at two facilities: one in Natanz called the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) and another in a mountainous region called the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP).

Since the middle of June, those units have been enriching uranium at a 60% increased pace, which amounts to around 3 kilos per month.

Reuters reports that a large number of diplomats hold the belief that the United States and Iran had secret negotiations early this year, which resulted in the release of U.S. nationals, and that these conversations caused the months-long halt.

IAEA inspectors first noticed a shift in output at Fordow on November 25. On November 27th, inspectors saw an uptick at Natanz. In the last seven days, they have confirmed both findings.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s theoretical definition, Iran now has enough highly enriched uranium—if it were to enrich it still more to 90%—to produce three nuclear weapons. In its most recent quarterly report, the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Iran has 121.6 kg (268 lb) of uranium enriched to 60%. As of August 19, estimates put the nation’s enriched uranium reserve at 8,367.7 lbs (3,795.5 kilograms), a decrease of 949 kg from May.

Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, strongly opposed the proposed US-Iran agreement that would see five American detainees freed in return for Washington thawing billions of dollars worth of Iranian assets. In September, Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s national security advisor, warned that if Iran enriches uranium to a level exceeding 60% purity, Jerusalem would be forced to take action.