IAEA inspectors have confirmed that Iran has produced a small amount of uranium metal, a component that can be used in a nuclear weapon, the International Atomic Energy Agency stated on Wednesday, following earlier warnings that the Islamic republic would conduct research and development on uranium metal production.
“Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi informed IAEA Member States about recent developments regarding Iran’s R&D activities on uranium metal production as part of its stated aim to produce fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor,” the UN nuclear watchdog announced, cited by Associated Press.
According to the statement, Iran has produced 3.6 grams of uranium metal at its Fuel Plate Fabrication Plant (FPFP) in Esfahan.
Uranium metal is typically produced from a low-enriched uranium isotope mixture that remains after enrichment. This material can be used both as fuel for atomic reactors producing energy and for nuclear weapons, in particular in the shell of a nuclear warhead.
Under the JCPOA, Tehran committed to not engaging in the production of uranium metal or conducting research and development on uranium metallurgy for 15 years, but recently Iran has walked back its nuclear commitments due to the uncertain future of the nuclear agreement, after the previous US president, Donald Trump, unilaterally withdrew the US in 2018.
In January, Iran announced its intention to conduct research related to the production of uranium metal, noting that it would be related to the development of an improved type of fuel for power plants.