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Iran complying with nuclear deal after briefly overstepping limit: UN watchdog

"The agency assesses that a range of activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device were conducted in Iran prior to the end of 2003 as a coordinated effort, and some activities took place after 2003," the IAEA (pictured here) said in
Joe Klamar (AFP/File)
IAEA finds Iran briefly went above the agreed need of 130 tonnes of 'heavy water' for Arak reactor by 900 tons

Iran briefly went over a limit set by the nuclear deal with major world powers under which sanctions against it were lifted before going back to within the permitted bounds, the International Atomic Energy Agency stated in a report on Friday.

The United Nation's nuclear watchdog's report said that Iran briefly went above the agreed need of 130 tonnes of "heavy water" for the Arak reactor by 900 kilos since the deal came into force.

But the level of this material has since fallen back down below 130 tonnes, and this was not expected to be seen as a major violation of the 2015 agreement.

"On 17 February, the agency verified that Iran’s stock of heavy water had reached 130.9 metric tonnes," the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which polices the deal, said in a regular report on Iran's nuclear program sent to its member states.

Adrian Leung/John Saeki (AFP)

Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium, material which can be used for peaceful purposes but when further processed for a nuclear weapon, has not risen about the agreed level of 300 kilos (660 pounds) and by Wednesday 20 tonnes of heavy water had been shipped out of the country, bringing the stock back under the threshold.

"All excess heavy water which is beyond Iran's needs will be made available for export to the international market," one of the annexes in the deal stipulates, adding: "Iran's needs are estimated to be 130 metric tonnes."

The IAEA's first assessment since the accord came into force on January 16 showed that Iran was meeting its main commitments.

As agreed, Iran "has not pursued the construction of the existing Arak heavy water research reactor" and has "not enriched uranium" above low levels, the IAEA report said.

Atta Kenare (AFP/File)

The Vienna-based IAEA added that "all stored centrifuges and associated infrastructure have remained in storage under continuous Agency monitoring" and no enriched uranium has been accumulated through research and development activities.

The steps taken by Iran under the 2015 deal extend to at least a year, up from a few months before the accord, the length of time Tehran would need to make one nuclear bomb's worth of fissile material. 

They included slashing by two-thirds its uranium centrifuges, slashing its stockpile of uranium -- several tonnes before the deal, enough for several bombs -- and removing the core of the Arak reactor which could have given Iran weapons-grade plutonium.

Centrifuges are machines that "enrich" uranium by increasing the proportion of a fissile isotope, rendering it suitable for other purposes.

Throughout the 12-year standoff that preceded the deal, Iran always denied wanting nuclear weapons, saying its activities are exclusively for peaceful purposes such as power generation.

In return for the scaling down of its nuclear activities, painful UN and Western sanctions were lifted on the Islamic republic, including on its lifeblood oil exports.

(staff with AFP)

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