Iran: New Enrichment Is Peaceful, In Complete Compliance With NPT

Iran configures two cascades for 60% enrichment

A new IAEA announcement on Iran’s civilian nuclear program has confirmed that Iran has configured two centrifuge cascades at Natanz to enrich uranium hexafluoride to 60%. This is an enrichment level pushed by Iran’s parliament after recent Israeli sabotage attempts, and Iran has pointed it out as entirely peaceful, and legal.

This is the highest level of enrichment Iran has ever attempted. It was announced weeks ago, when Iran informed the IAEA of it. The matter is somewhat controversial because Iran has no apparent use for 60% enriched uranium. It has been widely speculated that the move is mostly to publicly protest the sabotage, and that the uranium will ultimately be diluted back to useful levels when they’re done with it.

This is likely to lead to more western criticism, though Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement Tuesday on the matter, noting the action is in complete compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the safeguards commitment, and is being done entirely under IAEA supervision. All of that appears to be the case.

The downside is that this enrichment is higher than was meant to happen under the JCPOA nuclear deal. This isn’t strictly a “violation,” because Iran is not getting the sanctions relief they’re promised under the deal, and Iran is deliberately taking measures beyond the deal’s scope to try to force a negotiation to get the sanctions relief in place. As Iran points out, these measures are all completely reversible.

The only reason this keeps coming up as an issue is that the IAEA publicizes reports which are built around Iran taking steps toward things they’d already announced.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.