On Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published its most recent report on the Islamic Republic’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear agreement, which lists numerous breaches. The report follows on Tehran’s recent announcement that it has begun enriching uranium up to 5 percent, ignoring the 3.67-percent cap to which it committed itself in 2015. Moreover, the IAEA confirmed Israel’s finding that Iran is storing uranium at a previously undisclosed site. David Albright and Andrea Stricker summarize and analyze these findings and others:
Iran . . . started uranium enrichment at the Fordow fuel-enrichment plant; increased its quantity of low-enriched uranium above the 300kg cap, ramping up monthly production significantly; [and] increased the number and type of centrifuges enriching uranium above the limit of 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges. The total . . . uranium enrichment has increased [to] 36 percent above the enrichment capacity allowed. . . . Iran [also] installed and operated several new, advanced centrifuge types at the [Fordow reactor] not listed as permitted for installation in the nuclear deal.
The breakout time, or the amount of time Iran would need to produce enough [highly enriched] uranium for a nuclear weapon, has shifted downward, . . . from about eight-to-twelve months to six-to-ten months. The breakout time will decrease further as Iran increases its stock of enriched uranium and installs more centrifuges.
Iran is [therefore] increasing its enrichment capacity and its experience in operating advanced centrifuges. While the former is reversible, the latter is not. This knowledge and experience cannot be lost.
Albright and Stricker also note several points the IAEA report overlooks:
The report does not discuss Iran’s denial of access to an inspector at its Natanz [nuclear facility, and] is completely silent on the issue of the IAEA’s investigation of the nuclear archive [discovered last year by the Mossad], and whether this matter could rise to the level of a violation of the nuclear deal itself, under which Iran committed “under no circumstances ever [to] seek, develop, or acquire any nuclear weapons.” The existence of the archive may also violate the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and Iran’s safeguards agreements.