- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Iran is rapidly increasing its stockpiles of enriched uranium and could have more than a ton of the nuclear substance on hand, marking a significant violation of a landmark 2015 international nuclear treaty, a United Nations nuclear watchdog warned Tuesday.

The International Atomic Energy Association confirmed in a newly released report that Iran has nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium since November when Iranian officials said they had 372.3 kilograms on hand.

As of Feb. 19, Tehran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium totaled 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons,) the Associated Press reported, placing Iran well within reach of producing a nuclear weapon.

The spike is likely due to the country restarting nearly 1,000 centrifuges in a facility that had been ordered to stop production under the nuclear accord, the report said.

The watchdog explained that the mandated inspectors had repeatedly noticed patterns “consistent with efforts to sanitize” the nuclear sites.

The bipartisan leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee condemned the development and called on Iran to return to compliance with the treaty.

“It is incredibly disturbing to see Tehran’s decision to rapidly increase its stockpiles and restart previously disconnected centrifuges has already halved the amount of time necessary to amass enough fuel for a nuclear weapon,” Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Democrat, said in a statement.

“This report reminds us our highest priority must remain preventing a nuclear-armed Iran and should prompt serious conversations among our European allies about a pathway forward,” the ranking member continued.

Sen. James Risch, Idaho Republican and chairman of the panel, applauded the IAEA for producing the report which he called “an unprecedented recognition of the significance of Iran’s lack of cooperation.”

“This report affirms what many of us have long suspected – the Iranian regime is violating legally binding obligations and commitments,” Mr. Risch said.

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