Nuclear

Iran ramps up uranium enrichment while stalling probe

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Atomic monitors reported Iran’s stockpile of highly-enriched uranium jumped and that the Islamic Republic continues to lay the groundwork for a major expansion of its capacity to produce nuclear fuel.

The International Atomic Energy Agency released its quarterly safeguards report as negotiations between Iran and world powers over reviving their nuclear deal remain stalled.

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Talks to rein in Tehran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief broke down two months ago, and diplomats have said the prospects of striking a deal in the short term look grim.

In the absence of restrictions, Iran has accumulated 43 kilograms (95 pounds) of uranium enriched to 60 percent, a rise of 30 percent in the last three months, the IAEA reported on Monday in a 16-page restricted document seen by Bloomberg.

Tehran’s government also continued to stonewall a probe into uranium traces sampled at several undeclared locations, inspectors wrote in a second 10-page document.

“Iran has not provided explanations that are technically credible,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi wrote. “The agency cannot confirm the correctness and completeness of Iran’s declarations under its comprehensive safeguards agreement.”

The suggestion that Iran could be providing incomplete information has potentially serious consequences.

The entire international apparatus of rules that the IAEA enforces is based on verifying the correctness and completeness of nations’ declared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities.

“The agency remains ready to engage without delay with Iran to resolve all of these matters.”

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