Photo Credit: US Dept. of Education / Wikimedia / Public Domain
A billet of highly enriched uranium that was recovered from scrap processed at the Y-12 National Security Complex Plant. Original and unrotated.

Iran announced Tuesday that it has produced and stockpiled 6.5 kilograms (14.3 pounds) of 60-percent enriched uranium, in addition to 108 kilograms of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity.

Purity of 90 percent is the level of enriched uranium used in producing nuclear weapons. Uranium enriched to 60 percent purity is a just a short step from the 90 percent purity required to fuel nuclear weapons.

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“Under parliament’s law … the Atomic Energy Organization was supposed to produce 120 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium in a year,” said government spokesperson Ali Rabiei, according to state media quoted by Reuters.

He pointed out, however, that nuclear plant workers have apparently outdone
themselves. “According to the latest report we have now produced 108 kg of 20 percent uranium in the past five months,” Rabiei said.

“In the area of 60 percent uranium production, in the short time that has elapsed . . . about 6.5 kg has been produced,” Rabiei added.

Both stockpiles are in complete violation of the JCPOA nuclear deal Tehran signed with six world powers in 2015. The United States withdrew from the deal in 2018 under President Donald Trump, citing a “bad deal” and violations of the agreement by Iran.

Since that time, Iran has flouted numerous sections of the agreement, despite the rest of the partners to the deal having remained.

Recently Iran resumed negotiations in Vienna on the prospects for a renewed nuclear deal with the same world powers who signed the JCPOA nuclear deal in 2015, including indirect talks with the United States as well.

A sixth round of talks on reviving the deal resumed in Vienna this past Saturday.

At the conclusion of a meeting Wednesday on the sidelines of a summit in Geneva between US President Joe Biden and Russia’s President Vladimir, Biden told reporters that the two world leaders agreed to work together so that Iran does not achieve the capacity to create a nuclear weapon. he added that the two agreed to “renew the diplomatic channels between the powers.”

Any chance of reviving the deal “will have to await the formation of a new Iranian government,” said Rafael Grossi, head of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to Reuters, quoting an interview with the Italian daily news outlet, La Repubblica.

“Everyone knows that, at this point, it will be necessary to wait for the new Iranian government,” Grossi told the news outlet.

Iranian citizens go to the polls this Friday to select a new president – one that has already been approved by Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Once elected, the successor to outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani will be able to name his cabinet after Rouhani’s term in office ends on August 3.

French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Agnes von der Muhll told reporters this week that the talks were now on the “most difficult topics.”

Significant disagreements remain, she said, adding that “brave decisions” have to be taken quickly, “because we all share the observation that time is not on anyone’s side.”

“The discussions that have been going on for weeks have dealt with very complex and delicate technical questions, but what is needed is the political will of the parties,” said Grossi.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.