South Asia and Beyond

IAEA Warns Iran Enriching Uranium, Violating Commitments

Iran is using advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium, an action which violates the 2015 nuclear deal, says the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). It has “begun feeding a newly installed cascade of 174 IR-4 centrifuges” to enrich uranium hexafluoride gas up to 5% uranium 235, IAEA DG Rafael Grossi said. Iran is only allowed to use the IR-1 centrifuges. IR-4 centrifuges are much more advanced and there are reports that more are being commissioned and used in the Natanz facility, which is another violation. Iran had said last month that it had installed two cascades of IR-4 centrifuges although it did not indicate where. Iran has been steadily moving its centrifuges underground after an explosion at the Natanz site last July.

The IR-4 revelation adds to US President Joe Biden’s dilemma in the region. Last month, he had announced the end of US support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen. But reports of renewed fighting there with the Iran-backed Houthis attacking Saudi targets will be seen by him as further proof of Tehran’s intransigence.

It may help Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bid Salman. The prince who has been under a cloud ever since the release of a US report which states he personally approved the death of Jamal Khashoggi, will redouble his efforts to persuade President Biden that returning to any kind of deal with Iran is futile.