Middle East

Iran’s amassed enough material for ‘several nuclear weapons,’ says IAEA chief

By Celine Alkhaldi, CNN

Abu Dhabi CNN  —  Diplomatic efforts to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon should restart, said International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi, who warned that Tehran has amassed enough material for “several nuclear weapons.”

Speaking ahead of a planned visit to Tehran, Grossi told a European Parliament subcommittee in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran has not yet built a nuclear weapon and the West should redouble efforts to stop it from doing so.

Uranium enriched to more than 90% can be weaponized. Iran has 70 kilograms (154 pounds) of uranium enriched to 60% purity and 1,000 kilograms to 20% purity, according to Grossi.

The reactor building at the Bushehr nuclear power plant pictured in August 2010.

The IAEA chief is heading to Tehran in February for a “much needed political dialogue” despite the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), a nuclear deal signed with Iran in 2015, being “in a very bad shape,” he said.

Grossi described the JCPOA as “an empty shell,” saying diplomatic activity linked to reviving the 2015 nuclear deal is close to non-existent.

“Nobody has declared it dead, but no obligation is being pursued, and … every limit that existed in the JCPOA has been violated several times,” Grossi said.

Iran's nuclear chief Mohammad Eslami pictured in September 2022.

Last year, the IAEA asked Iran to explain why traces of uranium were detected in three areas that were not supposed to be dedicated to nuclear activity. Iran retaliated by removing 27 of the IAEA’s cameras.

On Tuesday, Grossi said that the move left his agency “blind” on several aspects, including how much material, equipment and centrifuges currently exist.

Grossi’s planned visit was confirmed by Mohammad Eslami, the head of Iran’s atomic agency, who said Tehran is expecting a visit from the IAEA chief, Fars news agency reported on Wednesday.

The decline in attempts to revive the deal has come at a time of increased tensions between the US and Iran.

The European Union has mediated indirect talks between Washington and Tehran aimed at relaunching the nuclear deal, but negotiations stalled after the Iranian government demanded further guarantees.

The talks were then brought to a complete halt by nationwide protests in Iran following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Jina Amini in September.

“The JCPOA has not been on the agenda for months,” US State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Tuesday.

The Biden administration also introduced sanctions on Tehran following a government crackdown on protesters, which has included executions of those accused of being involved.

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