State media reported Monday that Iran has exceeded the threshold for the Islamic Republic’s low-enriched uranium stockpile agreed upon in the controversial 2015 nuclear deal.
U.N. inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) weighed Iran’s stockpile of uranium and said it surpassed the 660-pound limit, a source told Fars News Agency.
Under terms of the multinational nuke deal, Iran can keep a stockpile of no more than 660 pounds of low-enriched uranium and the country pledged to stay within those limits if Britain, France, Germany and the rest of the European Union followed through with plans to provide Iran access to international banking systems.
Fox News reports that: Iran previously announced its intent to pass the limit unless certain demands were met by June 27. A spokesperson for the country’s Atomic Energy Organization said on June 17 that Iran had already quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium — which can be used in a nuclear reactor, but not in a bomb.
Enriching a supply of uranium means boosting its concentration of the type of uranium that can power a nuclear reaction. That type, or isotope, is called U-235. Enrichment basically means stripping away atoms of another isotope, called U-238.
When uranium is mined, it typically has about 140 atoms of this unwanted isotope for every atom of U-235. Refining it to 3.67 percent purity means removing 114 unwanted atoms of U-238 for every atom of U-235.
Boosting its purity to 20 percent means removing 22 more unwanted isotopes per atom of U-235, while going from there to 90 percent purity — weapons-grade territory — means removing just four more per atoms of U-235.
That means going from 20 percent to 90 percent is a relatively quick process — something that worries nuclear nonproliferation experts. Iran maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
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