Iran is on the verge of manufacturing nuclear weapons after enriching uranium to 84% purity

Bloomberg reported on Sunday, citing two unnamed senior officials, that inspectors from the UN atomic agency found 84% pure uranium in Iran last week, bringing the country closer than ever to levels suitable for weapons manufacturing.

According to available information, Iran has 60% enriched uranium. To make nuclear weapons, you must start with a fuel with a minimum purity of 90%.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are studying whether this is a deliberate act by Tehran or an “inadvertent buildup in the network of pipes connecting the hundreds of fast-spinning centrifuges used to separate isotopes.” according to the report.

According to a diplomat, Iran has not submitted adequate documentation to indicate its plan to increase enrichment levels at two nuclear facilities at Natanz and Fordo.

The other diplomat noted that problems related to Iran’s operations to create highly enriched uranium are evident even if the material is accidentally accumulated, as it has been in the past.

The International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA ) tweeted that it was “aware of recent media claims regarding uranium enrichment levels in Iran.”

The tweet also included a statement from the agency’s director general, Rafael Grossi, who said talks were being held with Iran to discuss the results of the recent inspections. However, the study does not specify where the highly enriched substance was discovered.

Following an unannounced assessment of the Fordo nuclear power plant last month, inspectors discovered two high-tech centrifuges connected in a way the Iranians had not disclosed. Iran said it “explained” the move to the inspector who reported it, and he “realized his mistake.”

The United States, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany responded together at the time, calling Iran’s claim “inadequate.”

When the IAEA Board of Directors meets in Vienna on March 6, it will hear the quarterly safeguards report on Iran.

The Iranian authorities have “accumulated enough nuclear material for numerous nuclear bombs, but not a single one at the moment,” Grossi told members of the European Parliament in January.

“It is clear that Tehran’s trajectory is not positive,” Grossi said, referring to the Islamic Republic of Iran’s latest atomic operations, which include enriching uranium far beyond the limits of the landmark 2015 deal to limit its capacity. 

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with other international powers fell apart after the United States withdrew from it in 2018. In exchange for nuclear restrictions and inspections, the JCPOA lifted sanctions against Iran. 

Iran abandoned several of its commitments to the treaty and increased uranium enrichment after Washington withdrew, arguing that the deal did not go far enough to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. The maximum enrichment allowed under the agreement was 3.67%. Talks to resume the deal began in April 2021 but have since stalled.

In November, Iran said it had resumed production at the Fordo underground plant, which had been closed when the JCPOA collapsed but had reopened three years earlier.