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Iran continues to expand its stockpile of uranium, enriched to near weapons-grade levels

VIENNA (AP) — Iran has further increased its stockpile of uranium enriched to near weapons levels, a confidential report from the United Nations nuclear watchdog said Monday.

The report, seen by The Associated Press, says Iran now has 142.1 kilograms (313.2 pounds) of uranium enriched to 60% — an increase of 20.6 kilograms (45.4 pounds) since the last report in February . Uranium enriched to a purity of 60% is just a short, technical step away from a weapons-grade level of 90%.

According to the report, Iran’s total stockpile of enriched uranium stands at 6,201.3 kilograms (13,671.5 pounds), marking an increase of 675.8 kilograms (1,489.8 pounds) since the last International Atomic Energy Agency report.

In its current report, the IAEA also said Tehran has not reconsidered the agency’s September 2023 decision to ban the most experienced nuclear inspectors from overseeing its nuclear program, but added that it expected Iran would do so “ in the context of the ongoing consultations between the IAEA and the IAEA. and Iran.”

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The IAEA also said the deaths of Iran’s president and foreign minister in a helicopter crash had caused a pause in the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s talks with Tehran on improving cooperation.

In its current report, the IAEA said that Iran suggested in a letter dated May 21 that discussions on IAEA-Iran cooperation “would continue in Tehran ‘at a suitable date to be mutually agreed’.”

Iran has insisted its nuclear program is peaceful, but the head of the IAEA, Rafael Mariano Grossi, has already warned that Tehran has enough uranium enriched to near weapons levels to make “multiple” atomic bombs if the country so chooses. He has acknowledged that the agency cannot guarantee that none of the Iranian centrifuges were taken for clandestine enrichment.

Iran and the United Nations nuclear watchdog are still negotiating how to implement a deal struck last year to expand inspections of the Islamic Republic’s fast-moving nuclear program.

The IAEA’s recognition highlights the challenges its inspectors face, years after the collapse of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers and the broader tensions gripping the Middle East over the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

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