Military and Defense

Iran Upgrades Uranium Tech to Hide Enrichment Levels from IAEA

Iran unveiled new technology at the Fordow nuclear facility, announcing uranium enrichment levels up to 20% purity, Reuters reported Saturday.

A UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report said the enrichment process employed advanced machinesdubbed modified sub-headersthat alternate more quickly between enrichment levels, Reuters reported Saturday. Although Iran must report changes in nuclear activity to the IAEA, the new centrifuge equipment could allow Iran to escalate uranium enrichment levels before IAEA detection.

“On 7 July 2022, Iran informed the Agency that, on the same day, it had begun feeding the aforementioned cascade with UF6 enriched up to 5% U-235,” according to the report obtained by Reuters. UF6 is per-enriched uranium.

AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi confirmed Sunday that the Fordow plant had already enriched uranium up to 20% purity, according to Tehran Times.

Iran converted Fordow to a research facility under IAEA oversight after the U.S. signed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran in 2015, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative. Iran claimed in 2009 that enrichment at the plant would not exceed the 5% required for generating nuclear power.

Enrichment at Fordow began in November 2019, according to an IAEA report, and has already exceeded 60%. Although 90% is considered weapons-grade, the IAEA warned in June that Iran already has enough 60% enriched uranium to fashion a nuclear explosive.

Iran defended its activity, saying that it had already communicated to the IAEA its plans to begin enrichment at Fordow, Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said in a statement. It did not specify the level of enrichment, according to Tehran Times.

“This issue has been pursued in the field of strategic action plan and completion of chains in accordance with the objectives of the law, and in line with this law,” Eslami said. “Solutions resulting from the use of nuclear technology can be considered as a shortcut in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, and these industries can use this knowledge in technology and processes.”

Talks between the U.S. and Iran to revive the JCPOA have repeatedly collapsed, most recently when two sides arrived at an impasse after only two days of negotiations in Qatar in June.

The AEOI did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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