• Stockpiles of low enriched uranium below ceiling set in interim deal
  • Deadline extended to 7 July in Vienna talks
  • US think tank questions if Iran has met targets

Iran has met its obligations to reduce its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium (LEU) in line with the 2013 interim nuclear agreement with world powers, according to the latest report by the UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Details of the report emerged amid crunch talks between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers in Vienna, which are aiming to hammer out a comprehensive nuclear deal that would see Tehran relieved of economic sanctions. The deadline for the Vienna talks has been extended to 7 July from 30 June.

Reuters reported that the confidential IAEA document gives Iran the green light on its efforts to reduce stockpiles of uranium gas enriched up to a fissile purity of 5 per cent. The volumes were estimated at 7,537 kilograms at the end of June, below the 7,650kg ceiling outlined in the interim nuclear deal.

One of the sticking points between Iran and the P5+1 group is on the level of access the IAEA will be given to inspect Iran’s nuclear activities and whether it extends to suspected military operations.

Another contentious issue is the timeline of sanctions removal, with the P5+1 countries wanting to lift the barriers only after the IAEA has completed its inspections.

US think-tank Institute for Science and International Security released a report questioning whether Iran has met all of its obligations to the joint plan of action (JPA) agreed in November 2013.

“The IAEA’s recent report on the implementation of the JPA shows only 9 per cent of Iran’s stockpile of newly produced LEU hexafluoride has actually been converted into uranium dioxide form,” said the institute.

“Iran has met part of its commitment in the JPA to feed its newly produced LEU hexafluoride into the enriched uranium dioxide powder plant (EUPP) plant. Yet, of this LEU, only 260kg (uranium mass) of dioxide has emerged, or an equivalent of 390kg of LEU hexafluoride, which is 9 per cent of what was expected,” the institute added, saying this material remains at the EUPP.

It is unclear whether Iran’s efforts to reduce nuclear activities and stockpiles to date will have a crucial effect on the current talks in Vienna. However, Tehran will be keen to prove it is meeting the targets outlined under the JPA as evidence it will continue to limit its activities.

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