Iran confirms IAEA access to 20% enrichment process at Fordow

January 5, 2021 - 21:57

TEHRAN - Kazem Gharibabadi, Iran's ambassador and permanent representative to the Vienna-based international organizations, has confirmed that the UN nuclear watchdog had technical access to an Iranian nuclear site where Iran has just started enriching uranium to 20%.

Gharibabadi said in a tweet on Monday that the International Atomic energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi has submitted a report underlining that the Agency has carried out a Design Information Verification (DIV) operation at the Fordow facility in accordance with an updated version of the IAEA Design Information Questionnaire (DIQ) at the same time as Iran produced UF6 enriched uranium.

Using a technical IAEA jargon, the Iranian ambassador tweeted, “The IAEA DG reported today that upon provision of an updated DIQ for Fordow, the Agency carried out a DIV at the Site and confirmed that a cylinder containing 137.2 kg of uranium up to 4.1% has been connected to the feeding line and production of UF6 enriched up to 20% started.”

DIQ is an IAEA form used by member states to submit Design Information to the IAEA. Design Information includes information concerning nuclear material subject to safeguards under the agreement and the features of facilities relevant to safeguarding such material. It also includes the facility description; the form, quantity, location, and flow of nuclear material being used;  facility layout and containment features;  and procedures for nuclear material accountancy and control. This information is used by the IAEA, inter alia: to design the facility safeguards approach,  to determine material balance areas and select key measurement points and other strategic points, to develop the design information verification plan, and to establish the essential equipment list.

DIV is activities carried out by the IAEA at a  facility to verify the correctness and completeness of the design information provided by the  State. An initial  DIV  is performed on a  newly built facility to confirm that the as-built facility is as declared.  A  DIV  is performed periodically on existing facilities to confirm the continued validity of the design information and the safeguards approach.

Iran has coordinated its recent nuclear move with the IAEA, allowing it to perform DIV activities at Fordow.

On Monday, Iran officially announced that it is starting 20% uranium enrichment at the Fordow site.

“A few minutes ago, the process of producing enriched uranium to 20% purity has begun. And the first product of UF6 enriched uranium will be produced in a few hours,” Ali Rabiei, spokesman for Iran’s government, said on Monday morning.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said this move is reversible, implying that Iran would stop enriching uranium to 20% if parties to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers implement their commitments.

Iran has long called on the remaining parties to the deal JCPOA, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to uphold their obligations after the U.S. withdrew from it. The European signatories to the JCPOA have largely avoided doing business with Iran under the pretext of the U.S. secondary sanctions.


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