Monday, September 4, 2023

Iran’s uranium enrichment slows down, says UN nuclear watchdog report


No Progress in Talks with Iran on Nuclear Issues, Reports Say

The United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has reported no progress in talks with Iran regarding sensitive issues such as reinstalling surveillance cameras and explaining uranium traces at undeclared sites. Two quarterly reports seen by Reuters revealed the lack of advancement in resolving outstanding safeguards issues. The reports also highlighted that Iran’s stock of uranium enriched to up to 60 percent purity, close to weapons-grade, continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace.

Lack of Progress in Resolving Safeguards Issues

The IAEA Director General, Rafael Grossi, expressed regret over the absence of progress in resolving the outstanding safeguards issues during the reporting period. Iran has failed to provide credible explanations for the origin of uranium particles discovered at two undeclared sites. This failure to address concerns raises tensions with Western powers and further complicates negotiations.

Stalled Reinstallation of Surveillance Cameras

The reports also revealed that there has been no progress in re-installing IAEA surveillance cameras in Iran. In the previous quarter, there was limited progress on this front, but since then, no further steps have been taken. This lack of cooperation heightens concerns among Western powers and adds to the already strained relationship between Iran and the international community.

Growing Stock of Enriched Uranium

Despite some of it being diluted, Iran’s stock of uranium enriched to up to 60 percent purity continued to increase, albeit at a slower pace. The confidential IAEA reports indicated that the stockpile grew by an estimated 7.5 kg to reach 121.6 kg. However, 6.4 kg of the enriched uranium was diluted with uranium enriched to a lower level.

Slowed Production of Highly Enriched Uranium

While the production of uranium enriched to up to 60 percent has slowed to around 3 kg per month from the previous rate of 9 kg per month, concerns remain. Some diplomats speculate that this slowdown could be part of de-escalation efforts between Iran and the United States, which may also involve discussions on frozen Iranian funds and US prisoners held in Iran. However, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has denied any link between these issues.

Implications of Iran’s Enriched Uranium Stockpile

Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent is now almost three times the amount theoretically required to produce a nuclear bomb, according to the IAEA’s definition. However, experts note that some uranium would be lost in the enrichment process. Iran consistently denies any intention to develop nuclear weapons.


The lack of progress in talks between Iran and the IAEA on resolving outstanding safeguards issues and reinstalling surveillance cameras raises concerns among Western powers. Additionally, the continued growth of Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to up to 60 percent purity adds to the existing tensions. It remains to be seen whether diplomatic efforts can lead to a resolution and alleviate concerns about Iran’s nuclear program.

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