The United Nations’ atomic watchdog said Monday its inspectors confirmed Iran is installing more advanced centrifuges that can be used to refine uranium.
An International Atomic Energy Agency statement said the equipment includes several types of centrifuges prohibited under the 2015 nuclear deal Iran reached with world powers that limited its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The IAEA said it had “verified that the following centrifuges were either installed or being installed…: 22 IR-4, one IR-5, 30 IR-6 and three IR-6s.”
The agency added that the centrifuges had been installed at Iran’s Natanz facility and said “all of the installed centrifuges had been prepared for testing with UF6 (uranium hexafluoride), although none of them were being tested with UF6 on 7 and 8 September 2019.”
“In addition, in a letter to the Agency dated 8 September, Iran informed the Agency that it would reinstall the piping at two R&D lines to accommodate a cascade of 164 IR-4 centrifuges and a cascade of 164 IR-2m centrifuges,” the statement said.
The confirmation comes days after Iranian officials announced the move. It was the latest step Iran has taken away from the nuclear agreement as it complains European nations are not doing enough to help Iran’s oil sector deal with US sanctions.
On Sunday, the IAEA’s Acting Director General Cornel Feruta met in Tehran with Vice-President and President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and other Iranian senior officials.
IAEA Finds Uranium Traces at Iranian Warehouse
Traces of uranium were found in samples taken by United Nations nuclear inspectors from a Tehran facility alleged by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be a “secret atomic warehouse,” Reuters reported Sunday, citing two diplomats with knowledge of the IAEA’s inspection work.
While the IAEA had asked Iran to explain the findings, Tehran has thus far refused to respond, the two diplomats claimed.
In a speech a year ago, Netanyahu called on the IAEA to visit the site immediately, saying it had housed 15 kg (33 lb) of unspecified radioactive material that had since been removed.
In April, it was reported that the IAEA was inspecting the warehouse in question, following Netanyahu’s UN address.
In a live video chat on Facebook, ahead of an election next week, Netanyahu was asked about the latest development.
“I know the issue is being handled by the IAEA. I do not intend to discuss this today. It’s very possible that I will have something to say about it tomorrow,” Netanyahu said.
“But it is certainly an important issue - let me tell you, it’s the most important issue as far as our future is concerned. And I am not relenting for a moment.”
[Sources: Reuters, VOA, The Times of Israel]