Iran has enriched uranium closer to the level required to arm nuclear missiles, according to evidence discovered at an underground facility by the UN’s atomic agency.
That is substantially below the 90 per cent level needed to make the fissile core of nuclear weapons. But it is above Iran’s highest-known enrichment grade of 20 per cent, the level from which uranium can quickly turned into weapons-grade material.
Diplomats shown the report, which was distributed among the agency’s 35 member states today, said it was possible the centrifuges may have initially “over-enriched” at the start of their output. The IAEA said Iran had claimed the higher-grade enrichment may have happened “for technical reasons beyond the operator’s control”.
However, the finding will intensify concerns that Iran is merely using the current round of international talks to play for time while it pursues its nuclear ambitions.
The IAEA’s report also confirmed that Iran had added a further 350 centrifuges – capable of churning out 20 percent uranium – this year at the Fordow facility, in addition to 700 installed earlier.