Iran enriching uranium at levels countries making bombs are reaching

Iran enriching uranium at levels only countries making bombs are reaching: IAEA chief
2 min read
26 May, 2021
In an interview with the Financial Times, Rafael Grossi, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, said that Iran is enriching uranium at purity levels “only countries making bombs are reaching”.
“A country enriching at 60 percent is a very serious thing – only countries making bombs are reaching this level,” Grossi told FT [Getty]

The head of the UN's nuclear watchdog said that Iran is enriching uranium at purity levels "only countries making bombs are reaching", in an interview with the Financial Times published on Wednesday.

The comments by Rafael Grossi come as world powers resume a fifth round of talks in Vienna aimed at bringing Washington back to the 2015 deal with Iran to curb its nuclear activities.

Grossi raised alarm at Iran's violations of uranium purity levels allowed under the deal, from which the US withdrew unilaterally in 2018, before it reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.

"A country enriching at 60 percent is a very serious thing – only countries making bombs are reaching this level," Grossi told FT.

"Sixty percent is almost weapons grade, commercial enrichment is 2, 3 percent."

Read also: UN: Iran has enriched uranium to highest purity yet

On Monday, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s civilian program said Tehran had stockpiled a total 2.5 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 60%. But this is still below the weapons-grade levels of 90% purity.

Furthermore, US intelligence agencies have said they do not believe Tehran is undertaking the "key nuclear weapons activities..necessary to produce a nuclear device."

Grossi, on the other hand, said the degree of enrichment needed a “vigilant eye.” While acknowledging that the measures could be reversed, he expressed concern over the nuclear expertise Iran had acquired since 2015.

"You cannot put the genie back into the bottle — once you know how to do stuff, you know, and the only way to check this is through verification," he said.

"The Iranian programme has grown, become more sophisticated so the linear return to 2015 is no longer possible. What you can do is keep their activities below the parameters of 2015."