Iran Produces 31% More Uranium to Add to Stockpile: IAEA

Iran maintained its output of enriched uranium that world powers say may eventually be used for nuclear weapons, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iran’s stockpile of medium-enriched uranium grew 31 percent to 189.4 kilograms (417.6 pounds) from 145 kilograms in May, the IAEA said today in an 11-page restricted report. The Persian Gulf country had raised production of the 20 percent enriched material by a third in the three-month period ending May 25.

“The agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” according to the report. The IAEA said it hadn’t detected any material diversion from Iran’s 16 declared nuclear facilities.

The report is the first since IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano’s creation on Aug. 10 of an Iran task force to continue the United Nations’ decade-long investigation. The U.S. and its allies allege Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons while the Islamic Republic insists it only wants atomic technology for power and medicine.

The IAEA also reported that Iran’s stockpile of low- enriched uranium, purified to less than 5 percent, grew to 6,876 kilograms from 6,232 kilograms in May.

The number of centrifuges, fast-spinning machines that purify the heavy metal, installed at Iran’s fuel-fabrication plant in Natanz, about 300 kilometers (186 miles) south of Tehran, fell to 9,156 from 9,330 in May.

Mountain Facility

Machines at the Fordo facility, which was built clandestinely into the side of a mountain, rose to over 2,088 from 1,064 in June. That enrichment facility has drawn particular attention from Israel because it would be difficult to destroy with an air strike.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Aug. 1 that time “is running out” for a peaceful solution to Iran’s atomic program. Israel is considering bombing the nuclear facilities before Nov. 6 U.S. elections, Tel Aviv-based Haaretz newspaper said Aug. 10.

About 175 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium, or 630 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, if further purified, could yield the quantity of weapons-grade uranium needed to produce a bomb, according to the London-based Verification Research, Training and Information Center, a non-governmental observer to the IAEA that’s funded by European governments.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at jtirone@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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