VIENNA, Feb 19 (Reuters) – The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Sunday it was in discussions with Iran about the results of recent verification work there soon after a Bloomberg News report that it had detected uranium enriched to 84% purity, which is close to weapons grade.
Iran has been enriching uranium to up to 60% purity since April 2021. Three months ago it started enriching to that level at a second site, Fordow, which is dug into a mountain. Weapons grade is around 90%.
“The IAEA is aware of recent media reports relating to uranium enrichment levels in Iran,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Twitter. “The IAEA is discussing with Iran the results of recent Agency verification activities and will inform the IAEA Board of Governors as appropriate.”
The IAEA declined to comment to Reuters before issuing the tweet.
The IAEA, which inspects Iran‘s nuclear facilities, flags significant developments in Iran‘s activities either in ad hoc reports to the 35-nation Board of Governors or regular quarterly ones issued before board meetings.
Diplomats said on Sunday evening that the IAEA so far had not issued any such report.
Bloomberg reported earlier on Sunday that the IAEA was trying to clarify how Iran enriched uranium to 84%, citing two senior diplomats.
Reuters was not able to independently confirm the report.
“Inspectors need to determine whether Iran intentionally produced the material, or whether the concentration was an unintended accumulation within the network of pipes connecting the hundreds of fast-spinning centrifuges used to separate the isotopes,” Bloomberg reported.
It added that the detected material could have been “mistakenly accumulated because of technical difficulties in operating the centrifuge cascades — something that has happened before”, citing one of the diplomats.
(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Deepa Babington and Lisa Shumaker)