U.N. Says Iran Cut Uranium Stockpile And Is Complying With Nuclear Agreement

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"U.N. Says Iran Cut Uranium Stockpile And Is Complying With Nuclear Agreement"

President Hassan Rouhani at a press conference on Iran's nuclear program

President Hassan Rouhani at a press conference on Iran’s nuclear program

CREDIT: AP

In its quarterly report released Friday, the U.N.’s nuclear agency declared that Iran has been complying with agreements to reduce its nuclear program and is cooperating in a U.N. investigation.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that Iran has reduced its stockpile of medium enriched uranium (20 percent) from 209kg to 38kg since the implementation of the November deal with the six world powers. The IAEA also noted that Tehran has followed through with its commitment to cease construction of new centrifuges.

The Joint Plan of Action (JPA), signed in November and implemented in February, came after a long period of stalemate on nuclear talks under Iran’s former president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In the agreement, Iran pledged to discontinue aspects of its nuclear program in return for partial lifting of international sanctions that have caused a severe slump in the nation’s economy. In previous reports, the IAEA has also indicated follow-through with the JPA’s terms.

Over the past decade, Iran has continually denied plans to develop nuclear weapons, but its enrichment of uranium has nonetheless elicited suspicion from Israel and the United States and other allies. Since Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, took office in 2013, however, progress towards a mutual agreement has gathered momentum. “This is the first time that Iran has engaged in a technical exchange with the Agency on this or any other of the outstanding issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme since 2008,” according to the report.

In compliance with February’s Framework for Agreement, which set the terms for negotiations moving forward, Iran ceased installation of new components on a major nuclear reactor and allowed the Agency to engage in “the nuclear-related monitoring and verification activities” called for by the P5+1. In addition, Iran provided information about its development of “Exploding Bridge Wire” detonators: a major breakthrough for the U.N. agency, which has been attempting to investigate the devices for years. Finally, the two sides agreed on several additional requirements Iran must meet by August, namely providing information about alleged experimentation with high-power explosives and consenting to U.N. inspections of nuclear development and research centers, crucial to answering long-standing questions about the potential military dimensions of its program.

The IAEA stated that its “assessment of the information provided by Iran is ongoing,” underscoring the importance of Iran’s continued cooperation with the investigations. After years of noncompliance, signs are encouraging that Iran and the six powers cooperating in the agreement will be able to meet their deadline for a final agreement, set for July 20. In a visit to Israel earlier this month, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel emphasized the long standing U.S. policy that Washington would do whatever it takes to prevent Iran from gaining nuclear weapons, not ruling out military action.

“I think the negotiations have reached a very important and sensitive and tough juncture,” remarked President Rouhani on Thursday. “We cannot expect it to be resolved in just a couple of meetings, but we are not pessimistic about the final agreement. We still have time. We can achieve this.”

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The Arms Control Association’s Kelsey Davenport and the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation’s Laicie Heeley have more.

Will Freeman is an intern for ThinkProgress.

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