A report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) shows Iran has slowed its enrichment of uranium at 60% purity, The Associated Press reported on Monday.
Iran began enriching uranium at 60% in response to an Israeli attack on its Natanz nuclear facility in April 2021. The level is the highest uranium enrichment Iran has done, but it is still well below the 90% needed for weapons-grade, and there’s no sign Tehran is planning to build a nuclear bomb, which was recently reaffirmed by a US intelligence report.
According to the IAEA report obtained by AP, Iran has 121.6 kilograms of uranium enriched at 60%, compared with just over 114 kilograms in May. The numbers mean Iran’s stockpile of 60% enriched uranium is growing at its slowest pace since it started in 2021.
The revelation comes as the US and Iran have been working to exchange prisoners in a deal that will also give Iran some access to its frozen funds that are held in South Korea. Earlier this year, a series of reports said the US and Iran were close to an interim nuclear deal that would involve Iran stopping 60% enrichment and receiving some sanctions relief, but an agreement never materialized.
Due to opposition from hardliners in Congress, the Biden administration’s dealings with Iran are generally kept secret, so it’s unclear if there is still a potential deal on the table related to Tehran’s civilian nuclear program. Iran hawks in both the US and Israel point to Tehran’s uranium enrichment as evidence the Iranians are racing to build a bomb, but they oppose the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, that capped Iran’s enrichment at 3.67%.