EghtesadOnline: The UN nuclear agency reaffirmed in a report on Thursday that Iran has remained within key limits on its nuclear work under the 2015 deal with world powers, despite Washington's hostile stance aimed at scuttling the historic agreement.
The report was the eighth since the pact became effective in Jan. 2016 and third since the inauguration of US President Donald Trump a year later.
Trump has called the accord, reached under his predecessor Barack Obama, "the worst deal ever negotiated". He is seeking a pretext to accuse Tehran of breaching its terms and walk out of the deal to appease his allies and sell more arms.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name of the nuclear deal, was negotiated between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany to ease sanctions against Tehran in return for temporary curbs on its nuclear development, Financial Tribune reported.
Iran's stock of low-enriched uranium as of Aug. 21 was 88.4 kg, well below a 202.8-kg limit, and the level of enrichment did not exceed a 3.67% cap, according to the confidential International Atomic Energy Agency report sent to IAEA member states and seen by Reuters.
Iran's stock of so-called heavy water, a moderator used in a type of reactor that can produce plutonium, stood at 111 tons, below a 130-ton limit agreed by the parties to the deal.
All the previous IAEA reports have verified Iran's compliance.
Iran's envoy to the Vienna-based agency, in a statement, touted the IAEA's Thursday report as indicative of the agency's "professional and unbiased" performance.
"The agency has stuck to its professional and unbiased work in verifying [the implementation of] the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action based on the standards set out in the safeguard [agreements]," Reza Najafi said.
The UN watchdog's report said Iran restarted production of heavy water on June 17 after a maintenance shutdown that started on April 27.
While Iran agrees its heavy water stockpile slightly exceeded the deal's limit on two occasions, it has disputed the allegations that those cases constitute a violation of the landmark agreement.
It acted quickly to ship some amounts to Oman to get below the threshold, but cited the text of the deal to argue that the heavy water limit is an estimate and not a strict limit.
The deal stipulates that Iran should not have more heavy water than it needs, adding that those needs are estimated to be 130 tons.
In June, shortly after the IAEA's last report on Iran said its heavy water stock stood at 128.2 tons as of mid-May, Tehran said it would ship 20 tons abroad. Thursday's report confirmed this has happened.
Asked about when Iran would go above 130 tons from the current stock and at a current rate of production that implies a maximum annual output of 20 tons, a senior diplomat said it would take Tehran around one year.
Critics of this arrangement have said merely transporting the chemical abroad and making the excess stock available for potential buyers in Oman is not sufficient.
But the parties to the deal have so far agreed with this solution.
Uranium enriched to a grade of under 5% of purity is considered suitable for civilian nuclear energy, while weapons-grade uranium requires enrichment of around 90%.
Iran denies having ever sought to develop a nuclear warhead and insists its nuclear program only has civilian purposes.
The Trump administration has been pushing the IAEA to check military sites in Iran, not just declared nuclear installations, to verify it is not breaching the deal.
But for this to happen, UN inspectors must believe such checks are necessary and so far they do not, officials have told Reuters.