Iran using advanced centrifuges in new breach of nuclear deal: IAEA

Iran has committed a further breach of its nuclear deal with major powers by enriching uranium with advanced centrifuges according to the IAEA. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 26 September 2019

Iran using advanced centrifuges in new breach of nuclear deal: IAEA

  • Iran is breaching the restrictions of its landmark nuclear deal with major powers
  • Iran says it has enriched uranium only for civilian purposes

NEW YORK: Iran has committed a further breach of its nuclear deal with major powers by enriching uranium with advanced centrifuges, and plans to install more of those advanced machines than previously announced, a UN nuclear watchdog report showed on Thursday.

Iran is breaching the restrictions of its landmark nuclear deal with major powers step by step in response to US sanctions imposed since Washington pulled out of the agreement last year. The deal only lets Iran accumulate enriched uranium with just over 5,000 of its first-generation IR-1 centrifuges.

The deal also caps the amount of enriched uranium Iran can produce and the purity to which it can enrich it, both of which Tehran has already breached, but only incrementally rather than by ramping up the level and amount as quickly as possible.

"On 25 September 2019, the Agency verified that all of the (centrifuge) cascades already installed in R&D lines 2 and 3 ... were accumulating, or had been prepared to accumulate, enriched uranium," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in the report to member states obtained by Reuters.

Those lines include relatively small cascades of up to 20 centrifuges. The report said Iran is still in the process of installing two previously announced 164-machine cascades of the IR-4 and IR-2m models, two cascades that were removed under the deal, which also lifted international sanctions against Tehran.

Iran says it has enriched uranium only for civilian purposes, but the US and IAEA believe it once had a nuclear weapons programme that it ended. The deal was aimed at extending the time Iran would need to obtain enough fissile material for a bomb, if it sought one, to a year from 2-3 months.

Iran denies ever having sought to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran informed the agency in a letter dated Sept. 25 that it is reconfiguring its enrichment setup to add clusters of centrifuges including a 164-machine cascade of IR-6s, the IAEA said.

In its last update on Iran's nuclear activities this month the IAEA, which is policing the deal, said Tehran had begun installing more advanced centrifuges - models other than the IR-1 that are only supposed to be used for research - and was moving towards enriching uranium with them.


Saudi-led military committee moves heavy weapons outside Aden

Updated 25 January 2020

Saudi-led military committee moves heavy weapons outside Aden

  • The internationally recognized government and the separatist Southern Transitional Council are obliged to hand over their heavy weapons

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: A military committee led by Saudi officers in Yemen has transported heavy weapons from bases in the southern port city of Aden, a committee member told Arab News on Friday. 

“We’ve moved tanks, cannons and ammunition from Aden military bases to a military outpost in Ras Abbas, on the outskirts of Aden,” said the member on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Under the Riyadh Agreement, the internationally recognized government and the separatist Southern Transitional Council are obliged to hand over their heavy weapons to the Saudi-led military committee, which is tasked with collecting them at a location outside Aden before dispatching them to battlefields. 

The committee is also charged with making other security and military arrangements, including the withdrawal of forces from the southern provinces of Shabwa and Abyan. 

The Riyadh Agreement, signed in the Saudi capital in November, was designed to defuse tensions between both sides following bloody clashes last year in Aden, Shabwa and Abyan. 

Residents in Aden reported seeing columns of lorries carrying tanks leaving military bases and heading to the city’s outskirts.

Despite failing to meet some deadlines included in the Riyadh Agreement, many of its terms have been implemented.

These include the return of the prime minister, the partial withdrawal of forces, an exchange of prisoners and the process of disarmament.

Following the relocation of military units, Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi is expected to appoint a new governor for Aden before forming a new government.

FASTFACT

Under the Riyadh Agreement, the internationally recognized government and the separatist Southern Transitional Council are obliged to hand over their heavy weapons to the Saudi-led military committee.

On the battlefield, heavy fighting continued on Friday in the Nehim district just outside Houthi-held Sanaa as government forces, backed by Saudi-led warplanes, pushed forward to pave the way for the liberation of the capital. Dozens have been killed since Wednesday as both sides claimed gains on the ground.

In Marib, senior army commanders on Friday said the army would keep pressing its offensive until the Houthis are expelled from Sanaa. 

At a meeting attended by the Saudi-led coalition commander in Marib, Maj. Gen. Abdul Hamed Al-Muzaini, Defense Minister Lt. Gen. Mohammed Ali Al-Maqdashi said the Yemeni Army is determined to push the Houthis out of Sanaa and other areas under their control, and to work on restoring state institutions. 

The commanders discussed military plans and the recent escalation of fighting in Nehim, Jouf and Marib.

The conflict in Yemen began in late 2014 when the Houthis seized Sanaa and began expanding across the country.

A military coalition led by Saudi Arabia has helped government forces advance on all fronts, pushing the Houthis to mountainous provinces in northern Yemen.

 

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