Monday 11 November 2019

Iran 'closer to nuclear weapon' after breach

Middle East

Satellite image showing the Fordow nuclear facility, just north of the holy city of Qom in Iran. Photo: Maxar Technologies via AP
Satellite image showing the Fordow nuclear facility, just north of the holy city of Qom in Iran. Photo: Maxar Technologies via AP

Karla De Wintours

Iran announced yesterday that it had begun processing nuclear fuel at a controversial mountain facility, which if confirmed, would accelerate its ability to stockpile material that could be used to make a nuclear weapon.

The move represents the most significant breach by Tehran of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 nuclear deal hammered out and enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution by Iran, the US, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany.

This week's move marks the fourth rollback of Iran's commitment to the terms of the deal this year.

Iran says it now has amassed 500kg of enriched uranium, more than the 300kg limit set by the nuclear deal, and is producing enriched uranium at a rate of 6kg a day. Around 1,100kg of reactor-grade uranium would be required to produce enough highly enriched fissile material for a single nuclear weapon.

Earlier this week, Iran announced that it would double the number of advanced centrifuges it was using for research purposes, potentially accelerating its ability to obtain nuclear fissile material.

Iranian state media announced that the country had begun injecting uranium gas at the enrichment facility at Fordow, near the central city of Qom.

Under the terms of the 2015 deal, Iran agreed not to process nuclear material at Fordow until 2031 and would only use the facility for research purposes.

Irish Independent

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