Aiea, Iranian reserves of enriched uranium ’12 times over the limit ’

The UN agency says the stockpile has reached 2442.9 kg. And they judge the information provided so far on a secret site "not credible". Tehran warns "hasty comments" and urges collaboration for a "solution". Biden indicates openings to diplomacy with Iran, Rouhani ready to seize "every opportunity".

Tehran (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The low-enriched uranium reserves available to Iran are now 12 times over the limits allowed under the nuclear agreement (Jcpoa) ​​signed in 2015, and cancelled three years later by Trump. The International Atomic Energy Agency (Aiea) reports in a note that the total amount of stocks held by Tehran has reached 2442.9 kg.

The UN Nuclear Agency inspectors are also asking for clarification on a site kept secret to date and, inside which, there is suspicious material, judging the information provided so far by Iran "not credible". In response, the leaders of the Islamic Republic insist that the ayatollahs' atomic program is aimed only for peaceful purposes, not to produce weapons.

On Twitter, the country's ambassador to the IAEA, Gharib Abadi, said "any hasty comments should be avoided", adding: "Interactions are ongoing with a view to finalize the resolution of the matter."

Meanwhile, the agency's experts are finishing inspecting the samples taken last September from two sites, which it is suspected were once used for the production of nuclear material.

In the latest report distributed to member states, the IAEA did not specify the places where the disputed reserves were found. An anonymous source tells AFP that the sites were not used to produce uranium, but rather for conservation alone. The IAEA added that Iran was continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5% - in violation of the 3.67% threshold agreed under the 2015 deal. Under the agreement, Iran is only allowed to produce up to 300kg of enriched uranium in a particular compound form (UF6), which is the equivalent of 202.8kg of uranium. Low-enriched uranium - which has a concentration of between 3% and 5% of U-235 - can be used to produce fuel for power plants. Weapons-grade uranium is 90% enriched or more.

Outgoing US President Donald Trump ordered the withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),​​wanted by his predecessor Barack Obama. The JCPOA deal was signed in 2015, but the United States pulled out in May 2018 despite the opposition of the international community. US President Donald Trump followed the withdrawal by imposing the toughest sanctions in history against Iran. The decision has negatively impacted the Iranian economy as noted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  In response, Tehran threatened to resume enrichment of uranium for civilian purposes. Now Iran is waiting to see what the policies of the new administration headed by Democrat Joe Biden will be. Many believe he could reopen the negotiating table with Iran.

In recent days, Biden has opened for a US return to the agreement, offering Iran a "credible path" to revive diplomacy. Yesterday the Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani said that the country is ready to take "every opportunity" to ease "the pressure of sanctions" that weigh "on the shoulders of the people".