U.N. Watchdog Confirms Iran’s Uranium Enriched to Near Bomb-Grade Levels

An Iranian technician works at a Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Isfahan 20 November
AFP/Getty Images

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed it has discovered uranium particles enriched to 83.7 percent purity at an Iranian nuclear facility, the closest it’s ever been to the 90 percent needed to produce an atomic bomb.

The particles, which were taken in January from Iran’s underground Fordow plant, were “inconsistent with the level of enrichment … as declared by Iran and requested Iran to clarify the origins of these particles,” a report by the IAEA said.

Tehran for its part said that “unintended fluctuations” during the enrichment process “may have occurred.”

Iranian centrifuges had been enriching uranium to 60 percent purity, according to the U.N. atomic watchdog’s last quarterly report on the matter. The latest report also said that the stockpile had increased from 25.2 kg to 87.5 kg.

“These events clearly indicate the capability of the IAEA to detect and report changes in the operation of nuclear facilities in Iran,” the report said.

Iran earlier this month denied reports that it had enriched uranium up to 84 percent as “slander.”

A U.S. State Department spokesperson on Tuesday said the IAEA report marked a “very serious development.”

“We are in close contact with our allies and partners in Europe and the region as we await further details from the IAEA on this potentially very serious development,” added the spokesperson.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi last month warned that Tehran had would soon have enough nuclear material for several atomic bombs.


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