The new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report should be a sobering reminder that the Iranian regime’s illicit nuclear activities continue apace, unaffected by another round of talks. An initial read of the report finds that Iran:
• Installed additional centrifuges for enriching uranium at both its Natanz and Fordow enrichment facilities. The additional 348 centrifuges at Fordow, the facility buried inside a small mountain outside Qom, will increase the rate at which Iran produces 20% enriched uranium and will shorten the timeline for a potential dash to produce weapons-grade uranium for a bomb.
• Increased its stockpiles of uranium enriched to 3.5% (additional 500 kg produced) and to 20% (additional 24.5 kg produced). The additional 3.5% material produced during this last 3-month period, significantly higher than the 354 kg produced in the previous 3-month period, adds to a stockpile that can be used to produce weapons-grade uranium. The 20% stockpile is approaching the amount needed to produce 25 kg weapons-grade uranium for one warhead at Fordow (141 kg).
• Continued to expand its testing and feeding of advanced centrifuges that would enrich uranium at more efficient rates compared to the first-generation machines that are currently producing low-enriched uranium.
• Continued to deny the agency access to the Parchin military complex, where the IAEA believes Iran has conducted high explosives experiments that simulate elements of a nuclear weapons explosion using non-fissile material. In the new report, the IAEA confirmed that it detected activity at Parchin “that could hamper the Agency’s ability to undertake effective verification” (a likely reference to reports that Iran is trying to remove evidence of the experiments) and that it obtained information corroborating its analysis of Parchin.
• Failed to respond to requests from the IAEA, including one for access to the Heavy Water Production Plant (HWPP) near the Arak heavy water reactor. The reactor, which Iran said it plans to begin operating in the third quarter of 2013, provides Iran another pathway for producing nuclear weapons fuel in the form of weapons-grade plutonium.
Another notable point in the report is the IAEA’s detection of uranium particles enriched up to 27% at Fordow (technically considered highly enriched uranium). Iran had told the IAEA the facility would only produce uranium enriched up to 20% (a level that can quickly be enriched to weapons-grade levels near 90%). Iran claimed that the higher enrichment level detected “may happen for technical reasons beyond the operator’s control.” The IAEA has requested further details from Iran and is analyzing additional samples at that site as of the report’s release.By Maseh Zarif