Iran Installing Advanced Centrifuges, Says U.N. Nuclear Watchdog

Iranian FM Javad Zarif welcoming IAEA's Cornel Feruta

All of the installed centrifuges, it said, had been prepared for testing with UF6 (uranium hexafluoride), "although none of them were being tested with UF6 on 7 and 8 September 2019".

The other signatories - Britain, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation, as well as the European Union - have been struggling to salvage the agreement and find a way to meet Tehran's demands.

On Saturday, Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation said it had taken another step by starting up 20 IR-4 and 20 IR-6 advanced centrifuges, the step now confirmed by the IAEA.

The United States, pulled out of the nuclear deal a year ago by President Donald Trump, is trying to force Iran to negotiate a more sweeping agreement, covering Tehran's ballistic missiles and regional behaviour, than the current accord.

IAEA Spokesman Fredrik Dahl told CBS News' Pamela Falk that the Agency's visit to Iran over the weekend was part of, "ongoing interactions between the IAEA and Iran related to the implementation of the Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol, and the IAEA's verification and monitoring in Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the nuclear deal)".

On Friday Iran's Atomic Energy Authority upped the stakes further by saying it had started lifting restrictions imposed on its nuclear research by the 2015 deal.

Diplomats say Iran has yet to explain to the International Atomic Energy Agency how the uranium particles ended up at what Tehran has said was a carpet-cleaning facility.

Prior to his speech to the UN General Assembly previous year, the prime minister revealed the results of a spectacular Mossad operation that ended with the capture of an entire cache of secret Iranian nuclear data files that were stored at a secret facility in Shirobad.

IAEA's Cornel Feruta meeting with Iranian officials in Tehran
IAEA's Cornel Feruta meeting with Iranian officials in Tehran

The sanctions have caused Iran's oil exports to collapse, the value of its currency to plummet, and its inflation rate to soar.

The deal only lets Iran produce enriched uranium with just over 5,000 of its first-generation IR-1 centrifuge machines.

With his stay in Iran, Feruta made his debut as the IAEA's top representative, after the death on July 22 of his predecessor, Yukiya Amano. But it did say Iran's cooperation could be better.

"The U.S. should abandon wrong practices such as unilateral sanctions and maximum pressure on Iran", Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing.

France has proposed offering Iran about $15 billion (€13.6bn) in credit lines until year-end if Tehran comes fully back into compliance with its 2015 nuclear deal, a move that hinges on Washington not blocking it, Western and Iranian sources said.

The Elysee Palace in Paris said Macron and Putin agreed "all concerned parties" should act to "ease tensions".

U.S. President Donald Trump wants to force Iran to renegotiate the 2015 accord, arguing that the terms were not tough enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and agree to curbs to its ballistic-missile program.

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