The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has discovered uranium in Iran that is enriched to to 84 percent purity which is just below the 90-percent threshold needed to construct an atomic bomb. Iran has denied the report, claiming they have “not made any attempt to enrich above 60%.” Under the terms of the nuclear deal Iran made with former President Barack Obama in 2015, Iran is not supposed to be enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent purity until after 2030.
The 84 percent discovery was made known to Bloomberg News on Sunday by two “senior diplomats.” The diplomats said that Iran has not submitted paperwork to the IAEA to enrich uranium above 60 percent which is already considered a dangerous level by watchdogs. They also said that even if Iran reached the 84 percent level by accident, it is still concerning and “underscores the danger of Iran’s decision to produce highly enriched uranium.”
“Inspectors need to determine whether Iran intentionally produced the material, or whether the concentration was an unintended accumulation within the network of pipes connecting the hundreds of fast-spinning centrifuges used to separate the isotopes. It’s the second time this month that monitors have detected suspicious enrichment-related activities,” Bloomberg wrote.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was asked about the Bloomberg report at a press conference on Monday. He responded, “Yes, I’ve seen those reports. We are in close contact with the IAEA, as well as with our partners — the E3 partners — in Europe. We’re working to get more information, and when we do, I’ll have more to say. But, of course, this would be a very serious matter.”
The IAEA acknowledged the report on Sunday, but would neither confirm nor deny it, stating that they were in conversations with Iran.
Iranian officials have angrily denied the allegations, saying that Bloomberg’s report was “a smear and a distortion of the facts.” Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, also made these remarks in a press conference:
“The existence of uranium particles above 60% does not mean the same thing as enrichment above 60%.”
“So far, we have not made any attempt to enrich above 60%. The presence of particles above 60% enrichment does not mean production with an enrichment above 60%.”