U.N. Agency Confirms Iran Produced Enriched Uranium Close to Weapons Grade

The United Nations atomic agency confirmed Tuesday that its inspectors had found traces of near weapons-grade nuclear material at Iran’s underground Fordow facility but said Tehran continues to produce 60% enriched uranium at the site.
In a confidential report sent to member states and viewed by The Wall Street Journal, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that during a check at Fordow on Jan. 22, the IAEA took samples which were found to contain highly enriched particles of up to 83.7%.
The IAEA said Iran claimed in a letter this was the result of “unintended fluctuations in enrichment levels.”
Weapons-grade enriched uranium is generally considered to be from around 90%-enriched uranium
“Discussions between the Agency and Iran to clarify the matter are ongoing,” the report said.
Iran has been producing highly enriched material of 60% purity since early 2021, higher than any other nonnuclear weapons state, according to the IAEA.
If Iran deliberately starts producing weapons-grade material, it could lead to crisis over the country’s nuclear activities. European diplomats have said that would be the trigger for them to move to formally kill a 2015 nuclear agreement, which lifted most international sanctions on Tehran in exchange for strict but temporary limits on Iran’s nuclear work. Western officials also say it could prod Israel to pursue a military attack on Iran’s nuclear program. Israeli officials haven’t been public about their plans.
Iran has greatly expanded its nuclear work since 2019, a year after the Trump administration took the U.S. out of the 2015 nuclear accord. President Biden’s efforts to revive the pact so far have failed.
Under the 2015 agreement, Iran was only supposed to enrich uranium up to 3.67% for 15 years.
In its report, the IAEA said Iran’s stockpile of 60% highly enriched uranium had increased by over a third in the last three months. It now has 87.5 kilograms of 60% enriched uranium, up 25.2 kilograms. That is far above the amount of highly enriched uranium it would need for a nuclear weapon.