According to a report recently released by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran began to enrich uranium faster than allowed by reaching up to 20 percent in certain nuclear sites in the past month. While the purity percentage agreed to in the nuclear deal is 3.67, refining conducted recently at the Fordow site enriched uranium with a purity of up to 20 percent, even though Iran is not allowed to enrich uranium at all in that facility. Despite Iran having enriched 4.5 percent purity at most before last month, which also exceeds the limit implemented, this amount was far below the high enrichment level of 20 percent, the report says.
On 23 February, Spokesman of the US State Department Ned Price urged Iran once again to cooperate with the IAEA, while also stating that Tehran is moving further away from compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Furthermore, Price indicated that it will be in close coordination with the IAEA with regards to an appropriate action in terms of its support in dealing with Iran.
Recently, on 21 February, Iran and the IAEA made a joint statement that in spite of Iran’s decision to go ahead with the block of IAEA snap inspections, the agency would be making necessary monitoring and verifying operations in Iranian nuclear sites for the next three months. While details on the deal are not fully clear, the Director General of the IAEA Rafael Grossi described a ‘black box-type system’ where data is retrieved by the agency without having immediate access. Later, a senior diplomat announced that this system did not encapsulate crucial declared sites, such as those related to enrichment, which predate the JCPOA deal itself.