Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency
IR6 uranium enrichment centrifuges at the underground Fordow nuclear facility in Iran.

The Biden Administration is pressuring France and Britain against voting to censure Iran next month at the board meeting of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The move comes despite the fact that Iran has significantly expanded its stockpile of near-weapons grade fissile material, according to a confidential May 27 report by the IAEA seen by a handful of journalists.


The IAEA reported on Monday that as of May 11, 2024, Iran’s stockpile of 60 percent highly enriched uranium rose 20.6 kilograms to 142.1 kilograms since its report in February — its highest level to date, as the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the IAEA, Iran’s overall stockpile of enriched uranium at the current moment stands at 6,201.3 kilograms (13,671.5 pounds), which represents an increase of 675.8 kilograms (1,489.8 pounds) since February.

The IAEA also said the deaths of Iran’s president and foreign minister in a helicopter crash on May 19 have forced a pause in the nuclear watchdog’s talks with Tehran over improving cooperation.

US officials warn that Iran’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium could be converted to weapons-grade uranium — enriched to 90 percent purity — in a matter of days. They warn that Iran currently possesses enough highly enriched uranium to fuel three nuclear weapons, once converted.

Nevertheless, the White House is working to avoid IAEA censure of the Islamic Republic ahead of US presidential elections in November.

According to the report, White House officials have told their European counterparts that the US will abstain in the vote, set for early Jun, and have urged them to do the same.

US officials have denied to report, according to WSJ. “Any speculation about decisions in premature,” a US official in Washington told WSJ.

“We are increasing pressure on Iran through sanctions and international isolation,” the official added, citing measures taken by the Group of Seven advanced democracies after an Iranian missile and drone attack on Israel last month.

The Biden Administration has long sought to close another nuclear deal with Iran, as have European leaders.

But the Europeans are now warning that failure to act against Iran’s race to achieve a nuclear breakout could undermine the authority of the IAEA, while weakening the credibility of Western sanctions threats against Iran’s nuclear activities.

The IAEA noted in its December 26, 2023 report that Iran was producing approximately nine kilograms of uranium enriched to 60 percent uranium-235 per month.

Iran was producing 60 percent enriched U-235 at a similar rate in early 2023, but decreased production by about two-thirds in June, according to the Arms Control Association.

Accelerating the production of uranium enriched to 60 percent U-235 is concerning because the material can be quickly enriched to weapons-grade levels or 90 percent, the ACA pointed out.

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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, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.