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Iran responds to reported discovery of its 84% enriched uranium

February 23, 2023 at 3:30 pm

Director General of International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Mariano Grossi [Dursun Aydemir – Anadolu Agency]

Iran seems to have directly addressed and responded to reports that it has enriched uranium to a high 84 per cent purity, after inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reportedly made the discovery recently.

Nour News, an outlet and website directly linked to Iran’s Supreme National Security Council which is overseen by Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated on Twitter that “It will be clear soon that the IAEA’s surprising report of discovering 84 per cent enriched uranium particles in Iran’s enrichment facilities was an inspector’s error or was a deliberate action to create political atmospheres against Iran on the eve of the meeting of the Board of Governors”.

That Board, consisting of a group of nations overseeing the IAEA, is set to meet on 6 March in the Austrian capital, Vienna, in which the issue of Iran and its enrichment will be a key topic. Nour News also urged the IAEA to “not fall prey to the seduction of Western countries” and to declare Iran’s nuclear program to be “completely peaceful”.

The IAEA inspectors’ findings – through detection of uranium particles – that Tehran had enriched its uranium to 84 per cent purity was first reported by Bloomberg on Sunday, allegedly proving that Iran was closer than ever to possessing weapons-grade material sufficient to produce nuclear arms. The requirement for weapons-grade uranium is up to 90 per cent enrichment.

READ: The issues holding back revival of the Iran nuclear deal

That report also came after the IAEA’s head stated last month that Iran has enough highly enriched uranium to build “several” nuclear weapons if it so chooses, but that it would likely take months more to actually build a weapon and compact it to fit on a missile. The UN agency has, so far, refrained from commenting on Bloomberg’s report while not denying it, stating only “that the IAEA is discussing with Iran the results of recent agency verification activities”.

Since the emergence of the report, Iran did not directly address or acknowledge it, but now Nour News’ comments on the issue and its response to the reports are considered an official position of Tehran, due to the outlet’s direct ties to the upper echelons of the Iranian government.

The ramping up of the Iranian nuclear question comes particularly at a time when Israel – a primary foe of Iran in the region – seems to openly be considering taking preventative military action against Iran’s nuclear program.

Notably, reports emerged this week that Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is seeking such action, with the returned premier referring to a repeat of Israel’s striking of Iraq’s and Syria’s nuclear facilities in 1981 and 2007.

“How do you stop a rogue nation from acquiring nuclear weapons? You had one that’s called Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. It was stopped by military force, ours. You had a second one that is called Syria that tried to develop nuclear weapons. And it was stopped by a military action, ours.” Netanyahu added that “A necessary condition, and an often sufficient condition, is credible military action. The longer you wait, the harder that becomes. We’ve waited very long.”

READ: As ‘civil war’ warnings ring in his ears, Netanyahu insists that the main issue is Iran