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Scant progress in Iran nuclear row: UN

Iran has not credibly answered the United Nations nuclear watchdog’s long-standing questions on the origin of uranium particles found at three undeclared sites despite a fresh push for a breakthrough, the agency says in a report seen by Reuters.

The lack of progress could set up a new diplomatic clash with world powers when the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-member Board of Governors meets next week.

If some governments seek a resolution criticising Iran it could deal a further blow to stalled efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.

The fresh quarterly IAEA report detailing Iran’s continued failure to provide satisfactory answers raises pressure on the United States and its allies to take action against Iran at the board meeting, since Iran and the IAEA announced a renewed push in March to clear things up by now.

“Iran has not provided explanations that are technically credible in relation to the Agency’s findings at those locations,” the report said, adding: “The Agency remains ready to engage without delay with Iran to resolve all of these matters.”

A separate quarterly IAEA report seen by Reuters said Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 per cent – close to the roughly 90 per cent that is weapons grade and in a form that can be enriched further – is estimated to have grown by 9.9kg to 43.1kg.

That amounts to slightly more than what the IAEA calls a “significant quantity,” defined as “the approximate amount of nuclear material for which the possibility of manufacturing a nuclear explosive device cannot be excluded”.

A senior diplomat cautioned, however, that in practice it would take more than 55kg of uranium enriched to 60 per cent to make one bomb because some material is wasted during enrichment.

“As of the moment you enrich you lose material,” he said.

The US and its allies fear Iran is getting closer to being able to sprint towards producing a nuclear bomb if it chose to, although Iran says its intentions are entirely peaceful.

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