Iran prepared to enrich at Fordow site on Wednesday: IAEA report

Reuters – Iran prepared to enrich uranium at its Fordow site on Wednesday, a move that is already a breach of its nuclear deal with major powers, but it did not carry out enrichment itself, a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog indicated on Thursday.

Iran announced on Thursday that it had resumed enrichment at Fordow, a site buried inside a mountain where enrichment and nuclear material are banned under the deal. The move would be the latest breach of the deal in protest at the U.S. withdrawal from the accord and its sanctions against Tehran.

Iran invited International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to Fordow – where the deal lets it have centrifuges for purposes other than uranium enrichment – for the feeding of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas into the centrifuges on Wednesday. By Thursday morning, Tehran said it was enriching uranium.

An IAEA spokesman said that on Wednesday inspectors verified the transfer of a cylinder of UF6 from Iran’s enrichment center at Natanz to Fordow, where the cylinder was connected to two centrifuge cascades for passivation, “a preparatory activity conducted prior to enrichment”.

The spokesman’s statement and a more detailed report to member states obtained by Reuters made no mention of enrichment itself. The report said the other four cascades of centrifuges installed at Fordow “remained unchanged”.

It was not immediately clear why the IAEA made no mention of enrichment itself.

Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Alison Williams, William Maclean

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