Iran's Uranium Stockpile Soars After Three-Year Access Denial

The United Nations

Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium continues to increase, the head of the UN atomic watchdog agency said on Monday, adding that it has been three years since the agency was able to access the country.

Addressing the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Director General Rafael Grossi indicated no progress had been made in resolving outstanding issues.

He mentioned that Iran is still not implementing provisions of the nuclear safeguards agreement, and that withdrawal of designations for several IAEA inspectors are yet to be reversed.

"These outstanding safeguards issues…need to be resolved for [IAEA] to be in a position to provide assurance that Iran's nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful," Mr. Grossi emphasized.

He also voiced concerns about public statements made in Iran regarding its technical capabilities to produce nuclear weapons and potential changes to its nuclear doctrine, which only deepen apprehensions about the "correctness and completeness" of the country's safeguards declarations.

Ukraine's power plants

Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards in Ukraine.
Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards in Ukraine.

Turning to Ukraine, the IAEA chief warned the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant "remains precarious" and that all seven Pillars of Nuclear Safety and Security have been "fully or partially compromised".

These include physical integrity; functional safety and security systems and equipment; radiation monitoring and emergency response; secure and reliable off-site power supply; trained staff; an uninterrupted logistic supply chain; and open communication.

"The attacks and the frequent disconnection of the off-site power lines due to military activity are creating a grave situation," Mr. Grossi said.

All six reactor units at the plant have been in cold shutdown since April, a safety measure long recommended by the IAEA. Despite this, the agency's ability to ensure the plant's safety and security remains compromised due to restricted access, he added.

He further reported that Ukraine's other four nuclear power plants continue to face compromised supply chains for spare parts and high levels of stress among staff.

DPR Korea's nuclear programme

Mr. Grossi also voiced concern over the continued and further development of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) nuclear programme.

The IAEA has observed intermittent cooling water discharge, consistent with the operation of the Light Water Reactor (LWR) at Yongbyon, along with ongoing activities at the reported centrifuge enrichment facility.

The Nuclear Test Site at Punggye-ri remains occupied and prepared to support a new test.

"The continuation and further development of the DPRK's nuclear programme is a clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions and is deeply regrettable," Mr. Grossi said, urging the country to comply fully with its obligations and to cooperate promptly with IAEA.

Rafael Mariano Grossi (right), IAEA Director General, delivers his opening statement at the 1717th Board of Governors meeting held at the IAEA Headquarters, in Vienna.
Rafael Mariano Grossi (right), IAEA Director General, delivers his opening statement at the 1717th Board of Governors meeting held at the IAEA Headquarters, in Vienna.

Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant

In Japan, IAEA continues to monitor the discharge of Advanced Liquid Processing System)-treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, which suffered a meltdown 13 years ago, he reported.

Mr. Grossi confirmed that the discharge is progressing in accordance with the safety plan approved by Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority.

"Expert independent analysis of the six batches released so far have confirmed the tritium concentration in each batch of ALPS-treated water released to date is far below Japan's operational limit."

Nuclear technology for sustainable development

In his concluding remarks, the head of IAEA underscored the agency's key role in promoting sustainable development.

"The IAEA is a crucially important vehicle for advancing sustainable development and international peace and security," he said, urging member states to continue their support for the agency's indispensable work.

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