Iran suspends controversial n-activities: IAEA

Tehran, Jan 20: Iran Monday halted uranium enrichment and a series of nuclear activities mentioned in the deal with six world powers, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report said, which might facilitate the easing of sanctions imposed on Iran.

The report said Iran has ceased uranium enrichment above five percent at the Pilot and Fordow fuel enrichment plants, referring to Natanz and Fordow enrichment plants, two of Iran’s main nuclear enrichment plants, Xinhua reported.

The suspension of uranium enrichment above five percent is considered to be a vital step towards easing of Western sanctions imposed on Iran, which is agreed to in the deal with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — US, Britain, France, China, Russia — plus Germany.

The IAEA also said Tehran has begun diluting the 20 percent enriched uranium stock pile, an action which makes uranium less suitable for making a nuclear bomb.

Experts said the over 240 kg 20 percent enriched uranium is necessary for making a nuclear bomb.

Iran also stopped manufacturing activities at Arak reactor, a heavy water reactor, which could produce plutonium, another kind of fuel for building nuclear weapons.

“Iran is not conducting any further advances to its activities at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant, or the Arak reactor (IR-40), including the manufacture and testing of fuel for the IR-40,” the IAEA said in the report.

The IAEA would hold a board meeting Jan 24 to discuss about funds and other issues for future inspection in Iran.

Earlier, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said Iran would start voluntary suspension of its uranium enrichment programme based on the nuclear deal reached in Geneva Nov 24 with the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany.

The implementation of the content of the agreement has many stages and in the first stage, the inspectors of the IAEA arrived in Iran two days ago, Salehi said.

Salehi said the present phase of the implementation of the Geneva nuclear deal would last six months.

He added that Iran would vigorously continue its nuclear activities including five percent enrichment.

To comply with the deal, Iran must halt all uranium enrichment above five percent, freeze its enrichment capacity, reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium and stop development on its heavy water reactor in Arak, among other measures.

IANS