Sunday, March 26, 2023

France, Germany alarmed at Iran’s uranium enrichment

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Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) France, Germany, the UK and the US have expressed alarm at Iran’s uranium enrichment in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The countries stressed that the agency found uranium enriched up to 83.7% at the Fordow enrichment facility, which is close to weapons grade, according to Reuters reporting on Wednesday.

Fordow is an underground facility, dug into the side of a mountain, where Iran usually enriches uranium up to 60%, while weapons-grade is roughly 90% pure.

In addition to small amounts of highly enriched uranium, the IAEA recently found that Iran made significant changes to two centrifuges where the samples were found, stressing that Tehran did not inform it about this.

“With respect to the detected particles of uranium enriched to 83.7%, all Board members should be gravely concerned by this alarming development,” the US noted in its statement to the IAEA Board of Governors.

Call for cooperation

“Iran must provide full and immediate cooperation with the IAEA to clarify what happened and facilitate all appropriate verification and monitoring measures deemed necessary by the agency so that any future occurrence is promptly detected,” the statement said and added “Iran must ensure that such an incident never occurs again.”

The US pointed out that “these new developments occurred in a heavily fortified facility that was originally built covertly,” which makes them even more concerning.

The four countries stopped short of calling for a resolution condemning Tehran at the coming IAEA meeting, but announced they would take action at a future meeting if needed.

IAEA’s Board of Governors adopted a resolution at the last quarterly meeting in November last year that ordered Iran to cooperate with the investigation into traces of uranium at undeclared sites.

Last week, Tehran assured IAEA that it was willing to provide more information to investigators and issued a joint statement with the agency outlining the pledge.

France, Germany and the UK noted they were “especially alarmed by the recent sampling at Fordow.”

“This unprecedented enrichment at up to 83.7% U-235 is an extremely grave escalation,” the countries stressed in their statement and concluded that it “brings Iran dangerously close to actual weapons-related activities.”

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