UN expresses 'serious concern' over Iran's growing stockpile of highly enriched uranium

Current stockpile now more than 20 times the limit set in 2015 nuclear deal

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei visits centrifuges in Tehran. Reuters
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The UN expressed “serious concern” on Thursday over Iran's steadily growing stockpile of highly enriched uranium.

Rosemary Di Carlo, undersecretary general for political and peacebuilding affairs, also noted that the UN's nuclear watchdog remains unable to directly verify stockpiles of enriched uranium in the country.

Ms Di Carlo told the Security Council that the International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium has grown to more than 20 times the limit set in the 2015 nuclear deal and includes increased quantities of uranium enriched by up to 60 per cent.

The IAEA has identified 25kg of 90 per cent enriched uranium as necessary to make a simple nuclear weapon.

“Such a stockpile of enriched uranium is of serious concern,” Ms Di Carlo said, stressing that diplomacy is the only way to effectively address the Iranian nuclear issue.

She echoed the call made by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for Iran to reverse the actions it has taken that “are not consistent” with its nuclear-related commitments under the deal.

The UN has received photographic evidence from the UK that Iranian-made drones have been used by Russia for attacks on Ukraine, she said.

Ms Di Carlo added that the UN had also received an invitation from the government of Yemen to examine “the debris of a cruise missile used in an attack by the Houthis on the Al Dhaaba oil terminal” in November.

The UAE's UN ambassador Lana Nusseibeh expressed “particular concern” over the seizure in March of smuggled Iranian weapons in the Gulf of Oman by the British Royal Navy.

“The suggestion has been made that some of these components bear design characteristics and markings similar to those previously observed in the debris of ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis in Yemen, towards Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” she said.

“This has severe implications for regional security and is of grave concern to my country.”

And US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield stressed that the world body bears a responsibility to fulfil its mandated task of investigating Iran's transfer of UAVs to Russia, saying the UN has refused offers from Ukraine and other parties to review “indisputable” evidence of the breaches.

“This is an inexplicable lapse,” she said.

She urged the world body to promptly investigate the evidence of the use of Iranian-made drones in Ukraine, saying: “Iranian UAV development and proliferation poses a global threat. It has implications for not only peace and security in the Middle East, but also in Ukraine and the rest of the world.”

Britain on Thursday announced plans for a tougher sanctions regime against Iran over alleged human rights abuse and hostile actions on UK soil.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the measures were “a toolkit that I would prefer not to use, but the decision on whether I do so, or whether I do not, is firmly in the hands of the Iranian regime itself”.

Updated: July 06, 2023, 5:14 PM