Ahead of Kerry, Zarif meeting in Oman, US think tank says Tehran aimed to develop machine that could enrich uranium quickly
(SOURCE) Iran has stepped up efforts to develop a machine that could enrich uranium at a much quicker pace, thereby violating the interim nuclear agreement reached with world powers last year, according to the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, or ISIS.
“Iran may have violated [the interim deal] by starting to feed [natural uranium gas] into one of its advanced centrifuges, namely the IR-5 centrifuge,” ISIS wrote in an analysis of the confidential IAEA report issued Friday to member states, according to Reuters. “Under the interim deal, this centrifuge should not have been fed with [gas] as reported in this safeguards report.”
The IR-5 is a new centrifuge that Iran has been seeking to develop to replace the old IR-1 model. Tehran possesses only one such machine so far.
“Because enrichment in these centrifuges is intermittent and not continuous, questions arise whether any of the advanced centrifuges work well,” ISIS said.
Iran has also reportedly sped up its low-grade uranium enrichment over the past two months, growing its stockpile by 8% to 8.4 tons.
The issue of advanced enrichment is sensitive because Iran could potentially produce a nuclear weapon if it processes the material further, a main concern for the West.
Iran maintained it does not seek nuclear arms.
Under last year’s interim deal, the world powers agreed to let Iran continue it “current enrichment R&D [research and development] practices.”
On Friday, the IAEA said that its attempts to probe allegations that Tehran worked on nuclear weapons were deadlocked — a finding that all but rules out hopes of full nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran by the November 24 target date.
Iran and the six world powers are set to meet in Vienna on November 18 to resume negotiations.