Iran has produced a material that is banned under the 2015 nuclear accords and could be used to form the core of a nuclear weapon, as it seeks to step up pressure on the Biden administration to lift economic sanctions on Tehran.
A confidential report by the United Nations atomic agency, seen by The Wall Street Journal, said Iran had started producing uranium metal on Feb. 6 at a nuclear facility in Isfahan that is under the agency’s inspection.
The material produced was a small amount of natural uranium metal, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported, meaning it wasn’t enriched. To use uranium metal for a nuclear weapon’s core, Iran would need around half a kilogram, or slightly more than one pound, of highly enriched uranium metal, experts say.
The Iranian government in December warned that it would start producing uranium metal within five months, following a law passed in Iran’s Parliament on Dec. 1, a threat that alarmed Western diplomats.
Iran has taken a series of recent steps in breach of the 2015 nuclear accord, from which the Trump administration withdrew. Tehran has increased its production of nuclear fuel, carried out enrichment in locations it isn’t supposed to use, and earlier this year produced 20% enriched uranium, the highest purity of the material it has made since 2013.