VIENNA – The United Nations will release a report this week certifying that Iran’s ability to make a nuclear bomb has been greatly reduced because it has diluted half of its material that can be turned most quickly into weapons-grade uranium, diplomats said Tuesday.
The move is part of Iran’s commitments under a deal with six world powers in effect since January that mandates some nuclear concessions on the part of Tehran in exchange for a partial lifting of sanctions crippling its economy.
A key concern for the six was Iran’s stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium, which is only a technical step away from the 90-percent grade used to arm nuclear weapons. By late last year, Iran had already amassed almost enough of the 20-percent grade for one nuclear bomb.
Under the agreement, Iran agreed to halt its 20-percent enrichment program and to turn half of its nearly 440-pound stockpile into oxide for reactor fuel. As well, it pledged to dilute the other half into low-enriched uranium.
Making weapons-grade uranium by reconverting from oxide or from the lower level would take much longer than doing so from the 20-percent enriched material, giving more time for the international community to react.
The U.N. nuclear agency is due this week to report on Iran’s adherence to the deal and two diplomats told the Associated Press that it would say that Iran has fulfilled its dilution commitment while continuing the process of conversion into oxide.