UN agency: Iran nearly triples stockpile of enriched uranium

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VIENNA (AP) – Iran has nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium over the last three months in violation of its deal with world powers and is refusing to answer questions about three possible undeclared nuclear sites, the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Tuesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency made the statement in a confidential report distributed to member countries that was seen by The Associated Press. The agency said of Feb. 19, Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile amounted to 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons), compared to 372.3 kilograms noted in its last report on Nov. 3, 2019.

The nuclear deal that Iran signed in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms.

The deal promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program, but since President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal unilaterally in 2018, however, Iran has been slowly violating the deal’s restrictions. With the violations, Tehran has said it hopes to put pressure on the other nations involved to increase economic incentives to make up for hard-hitting sanctions imposed by Washington after the American withdrawal.

In a second report issued Tuesday, the IAEA said it had identified three locations in Iran where the country possibly stored undeclared nuclear material or undertook nuclear-related activities without declaring it to international observers. It said it had sent questions to Iran in three separate letters but received no answers.

“The agency identified a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities at three locations in Iran that had not been declared by Iran,” the agency said in the report.

The IAEA had previously said that uranium particles of man-made origin had been discovered at one location outside Tehran that had not been declared, which appeared to confirm allegations made by the U.S. and Israel about a secret nuclear warehouse.

The agency said Tehran responded to its latest concerns in a letter on Jan. 28 that “Iran will not recognize any allegation on past activities and does not consider itself obliged to respond to such allegations.”

The IAEA responded that its requests for clarification were in line with Iran’s broader commitment to allow inspections of its nuclear facilities and not tied in to the landmark nuclear deal with world powers.

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Rising reported from Berlin

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