Iran still short of nuclear deal’s enriched uranium cap: diplomats

Iran earlier announced they would reach the agreement’s limit of enriched uranium by Thursday. (File/AFP)
Updated 27 June 2019

Iran still short of nuclear deal’s enriched uranium cap: diplomats

  • Two diplomats said Iran produces around 1kg of enriched uranium a day
  • UN nuclear watchdog confirmed that Iran currently has around 200kg of low-enriched uranium

VIENNA: Iran is still short of the maximum amount of enriched uranium it is allowed to have under its deal with major powers but it is on course to reach that limit at the weekend, the latest data from UN nuclear inspectors shows, diplomats say.

This makes it unlikely Iran will follow through on its threat to violate one of the nuclear deal’s central restrictions on Thursday, which could have unraveled the pact altogether.

It also sets up a meeting with other signatories on Friday aimed at saving the accord, which is straining under US pressure.

“They haven’t reached the limit... It’s more likely to be at the weekend if they do it,” one diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

The 2015 deal, which lifted international sanctions against Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear activities, is aimed at extending the time Iran would need to produce a nuclear bomb, if it chose to, to a year from roughly 2-3 months.

On Wednesday, the UN nuclear watchdog verified that Iran had roughly 200 kg of low-enriched uranium, below the deal’s 202.8 kg limit, three diplomats who follow the agency’s work said.

Two of the diplomats said Iran was producing at a rate of around 1 kg a day, meaning it could go over the line soon after the meeting of senior officials from Iran, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China in Vienna on Friday.

Washington pulled out of the nuclear accord last year and has imposed punishing economic sanctions against Tehran.

Iran has threatened to respond by setting aside some of the deal’s restrictions, which could cause the deal to collapse, though it has called on European powers to do more to shield it from US sanctions — a move the White House has called “nuclear blackmail.”

The European powers are scrambling to protect trade with Iran but what they can achieve pales in comparison to US sanctions aimed at slashing Iran’s vital oil exports to zero.

Diplomats have also stressed the European signatories are weary of Iranian demands that they sustain a pact that Washington has withdrawn from and said if Tehran followed suit, they would have little choice but to acquiesce in the reimposition of UN sanctions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, which is policing the deal’s nuclear restrictions, does not generally comment on details of its inspections. It was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.

“We’ve made it clear to the Iranians that we have zero tolerance on the nuclear issue,” a senior European official said. “They are close to the threshold, but we will wait for the IAEA to report back to us in the coming days.”


UAE health ministry confirms first coronavirus case

Updated 8 min 7 sec ago

UAE health ministry confirms first coronavirus case

  • Patients' health stable and under medical observation
  • General health situation was not a cause for concern, ministry says

DUBAI: The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention said the country’s “general health situation” is not a cause for concern, after confirming at least one case of the coronavirus in the country, in a circular released on social media.

“The first case of the coronavirus was diagnosed in Chinese citizens from Wuhan city,” said the ministry, adding that meanwhile the health condition of those infected is “stable and under medical observation.”

“The ministry of Health and Prevention is working around the clock to immediately report any new cases.”

It also confirmed that, in coordination with health authorities, the UAE government had taken necessary precautions in accordance with the scientific recommendations, conditions and standards approved by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The ministry stressed that the epidemiological investigation centers in the country were working to report any cases of the virus, stressing that the health system in the country works very efficiently and that the ministry was closely following the situation in a way that guarantees the health and safety of everyone.