VIENNA (Dispatches) -- Iran has informed the UN nuclear agency it plans to install more of its advanced IR-2m centrifuges at an underground uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, a report by the agency said.
"Iran indicated it plans to install two additional cascades of 174 IR-2m centrifuges at FEP to enrich ... up to 5% U-235. This will bring the total number of cascades of IR-2m centrifuges either planned, being installed, or operating in FEP to six,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report to member states, cited by Reuters.
Despite the existence of relevant regulations, the issue of leaking or unauthorized access to confidential information of the agency has been always a major sticking point in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s relations with the IAEA.
Last week, Iran’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna said the Iranian mission has informed the IAEA of Tehran’s concerns and observations on protection of confidential information related to its nuclear program.
"Iran’s considerations and concerns with regard to protection of confidential information have been communicated to the International Atomic Energy Agency in an official letter” dated February 4, 2021, which was circulated on February 9, Kazem Gharibabadi said.
An IAEA report on Feb. 1 said Iran had brought a second cascade, or cluster, of IR-2m centrifuges online at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) and was installing two more.
Iran has been scaling back its compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal in response to the West’s failure fulfill its obligations.
Iran has said it will block snap inspections by the UN nuclear agency from next week if other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal do not fulfill their obligations.
"If others do not fulfill their obligations by Feb. 21, the government is obliged to suspend the voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said on Monday.
Following a meeting in Paris, Britain, France, Germany and the U.S. said that they were "united in underlining the dangerous nature of a
decision to limit IAEA access” ahead of the February 21 deadline set by the Iranian parliament.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian hosted his German and British counterparts in Paris, with America’s new top diplomat Antony Blinken joining via videoconference. The three European countries, known as the E3, are signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Their statement urged "Iran to consider the consequences of such grave action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity,” adding that they all shared the aim of Iran returning to "full compliance” with the accord.
Analysts say only a small window of opportunity remains to save the nuclear deal, which received a near-fatal blow when former U.S. president Donald Trump walked out of the accord in 2018.
Reporting from Tehran earlier Thursday, FRANCE 24’s Reza Sayah said Iran has made its position on re-entering the deal clear. "They want Washington to lift the sanctions – if that happens they say they will come back to the deal,” he explained.
"From Tehran’s point of view as they’re watching what’s happening in Paris today, they want the European signatories to the deal and Washington to get together and take a substantial and significant step towards restoring this deal and towards lifting the sanctions that were imposed by Washington during the Trump’s administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign,” said Sayah.
"Iran believes their position is reasonable. Remember the Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal in 2018. Iran waited an entire year to see if the European signatories to the deal could salvage it. When that didn’t happen, in 2019, that’s when Iran started step-by-step scaling back some of its commitments,” he added.
IAEA chief Rafael Grossi is to travel to Tehran on Saturday for talks with the Iranian authorities, the agency said.
The UN nuclear agency said last week that Iran had started producing uranium metal.