U.N. Agency: Iran’s Key Uranium Stockpile Has Shrunk Under Nuclear Accord

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and Iranian technicians on Jan. 20 disconnect centrifuge equipment used to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity at Iran's Natanz facility. Iran's stockpile of the weapon-useful substance has decreased in size under an atomic accord with world powers, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Thursday.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
Feb. 20, 2014, 9:44 a.m.

Ir­an’s most closely watched urani­um sup­ply has dropped in size since Novem­ber, when the na­tion reached a land­mark nuc­le­ar deal with six world powers.

The coun­try’s quant­ity of 20 per­cent-en­riched urani­um — a ma­ter­i­al suited for po­ten­tial fast con­ver­sion in­to nuc­le­ar-weapon ma­ter­i­al — has fallen to 354 pounds, nearly one-fifth less than what it pos­sessed three months ago, the In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency said in a quarterly in­spec­tions as­sess­ment. The find­ing came weeks after the im­ple­ment­a­tion on­set of a mul­ti­lat­er­al ac­cord that in­cluded a six-month freeze on Ir­an’s pro­duc­tion of the sub­stance.

Ir­an “ceased the pro­duc­tion” of 20 per­cent-en­riched urani­um hex­a­flu­or­ide gas on Jan. 20, when the deal took ef­fect, the U.N. nuc­le­ar watch­dog said in the re­port to its 35-na­tion gov­ern­ing board.

In ad­di­tion, the na­tion “began down­blend­ing some of what it had pro­duced” to lower-grade urani­um that would take longer to con­vert in­to bomb fuel, giv­ing out­side powers more time to re­spond if Tehran ever de­cided to tap its urani­um stocks for weapons de­vel­op­ment.

The United States its al­lies strongly doubt Ir­an’s as­ser­tions that it was pro­du­cing the sens­it­ive urani­um strictly for peace­ful use. They hope the half-year agree­ment will pave the way for longer-term re­stric­tions on Ir­an’s urani­um-en­rich­ment pro­gram and oth­er nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies.

The agency ad­ded that Ir­an is co­oper­at­ing with an in­tens­i­fied in­spec­tions re­gime es­tab­lished un­der the in­ter­im nuc­le­ar ac­cord, as well as with meas­ures un­der a sep­ar­ate U.N. probe in­to al­leg­a­tions of past weapon­iz­a­tion activ­it­ies.

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