Iran violating all restrictions of nuclear deal, UN atomic agency says in confidential document

The nuclear deal promised Iran economic incentives in return for curbs on its nuclear program, but since the U.S. pulled out of the agreement, Iran has been slowly violating the restrictions.

Watchdog says Iran has continued to increase enriched uranium stockpiles

A general view of the Arak heavy-water project, 190 kilometres south of Tehran, is shown in a 2011 file photo. Heavy water is used as a moderator to slow down reactions in the core of nuclear reactors like one Iran has been developing at Arak. (Hamid Forootan/Reuters)

Iran has continued to increase its stockpiles of enriched uranium and remains in violation of its deal with world powers, the UN's atomic watchdog said Friday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported the finding in a confidential document distributed to member countries and seen by The Associated Press.

The United Nations agency said that as of May 20, Iran's total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,571.6 kilograms, up from 1,020.9 kilograms on Feb. 19.

Iran signed the nuclear deal in 2015 with the United States, Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia. Known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, it allows Iran only to keep a stockpile of 202.8 kilograms.

The U.S. pulled out of the deal unilaterally in 2018.

U.S. President Donald Trump holds up a proclamation declaring his intention to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran nuclear agreement after signing it in the Diplomatic Room at the White House on May 8, 2018. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The IAEA reported that Iran has also been continuing to enrich uranium to a purity of 4.5 per cent, higher than the 3.67 per cent allowed under the JCPOA. It is also above the pact's limitations on heavy water.

The nuclear deal promised Iran economic incentives in return for the curbs on its nuclear program. Since President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal, Iran has been slowly violating the restrictions.

The ultimate goal of the JCPOA is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb — something that Tehran says it does not want to do. It has been open about the violations and continues to allow IAEA inspectors access to its facilities to monitor operations.

It is now in violation of all restrictions outlined by the JCPOA, which Tehran says it hopes will pressure the other nations involved to increase economic incentives to make up for tough sanctions imposed by Washington after the U.S. withdrawal.

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Though Iran has been hard hit by the novel coronavirus pandemic, the IAEA said it has maintained its verification and monitoring activities in the country, primarily by chartering aircraft to fly inspectors to and from Iran.

It cited "exceptional co-operation" from authorities in Austria, where it is based, and Iran in facilitating the operation.