Iran Months From Hitting Enriched Uranium Cap Despite Acceleration

Increased fuel production would keep them well under the cap

While there has been a lot of talk about Iran substantially increasing their rate of uranium enrichment with better centrifuges, the math suggests that even in the worst-case scenario, Iran would not hit the stockpile cap on their uranium for months.

Iran enriches uranium to 3.6%, the level needed to power the Bushehr Power Plant, it is then sent on to Russia to be converted to fuel for that plant. Iran only produces a fraction of the fuel for the plant.

Estimates are that after the installation of the new centrifuges, Iran produces 12 kg of this low-enriched uranium per month. As of the last IAEA report, on May 20, Iran’s stockpile was at 174.1 kg.

The “cap” is said to be 202.8 kg. Assuming no shipments of uranium to Russia, they would bump up against this cap in late August. There is no reason, however, not to expect more shipments to Russia.

That said, Iran publicly disavowed the cap last month. Since the US withdrew from the P5+1 deal, the cap has technically been voluntary, and Iran said they are no longer voluntarily worrying about it.

On the other hand, the US withdrew a “waiver” allowing Russia to ship Iranian uranium for reprocessing. There is no sign Russia intends to comply with this US position, however, and since the US isn’t a party to the P5+1 deal anymore anyhow, there really is no reason to worry about the US position on the matter.

The 3.6% uranium stockpile is only usable for energy generation. Weapons-grade uranium would be well in excess of 90%. This stockpile, then is not a military asset, nor any sort of proliferation risk.


Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.