Iran increases uranium stockpile during JPOA, raising concerns about fate of uranium in any future agreement

 

Iran has increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by one-fifth during the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), according to a Monday report in The New York Times, despite repeated claims by the Obama administration that Iran has halted progress on its nuclear program. This raises concerns about the uranium stockpile in any future deal. In late March, during negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, said that the uranium would not be shipped abroad.  If Iran maintains a stockpile of low-enriched uranium or oxidized uranium (the latter can be reversed in the matter of a few weeks), it would have permanent access to multiple nuclear bombs’ worth of enriched uranium. A White House fact sheet released upon the signing of the JPOA in November 2013 stipulated that Iran would “[n]ot increase its stockpile of 3.5% low-enriched uranium, so that the amount is not greater at the end of [the agreement] than it is at the beginning.” According to the most recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency cited by the Times, not only has Iran increased its stockpile, but it has sped up the pace of enrichment.

Furthermore, in a May analysis, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) concluded that most of Iran’s near-20% enriched uranium is in the form of scrap rather than fuel assemblies. Moreover, Iran is currently conducting R&D on how to recover this highly-enriched uranium from scrap. ISIS wrote previously that the administration has failed to take into account the fact that both the near-20% enriched fuel and near-20% enriched scrap can be reconverted back into enriched uranium for use in a bomb, which would drastically reduce breakout time. In its most recent report, ISIS wrote, the use of near-20% enriched uranium “can significantly speed up breakout timelines to well below 12 months.”

The understandings announced in Lausanne on April 2 call for the reduction of Iran’s uranium stockpile, but do not specify the mechanism by which that would be done.

 

Narendra Modi, who was elected prime minister of India last year, will be the first Indian leader to visit Israel, The Times of India reported today.

The Times of Israel added:

The Modi trip would culminate a steady improvement in bilateral ties since Israel and India formalized full diplomatic relations in 1992.

 

However, it would not be the Indian politician’s first time in Israel; Modi visited Israel during his term as chief minister of Gurajat province, a position he held from 2001 to 2014. ...

 

In February Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon met Modi in Delhi, marking a new phase in which previously hushed-up defense deals between the countries were brought out into the open. Israel and India have also signed recent deals on agriculture and cyber-security projects.

The Times of Israel also pointed out that improving ties with Israel was one of Modi's foreign policy priorities.

Modi's election was hailed as the beginning of closer ties between the two countries. Even before his election, trade between India and Israel exceeded $6 billion annually. Last fall, a number of missile deals were announced between the two countries. Israel and India are jointly developing the Barak-8 surface-to-air missile. Two Indian IT giants, Tech Mahindra and Infosys, have expanded their operations in Israel. While visiting Israel last month, Davendra Fadnavis, chief minister of the Indian state of Maharashtra, praised Israeli agricultural technology for enabling his state to improve its crop yields. (via TheTower.org)

 

Grammy-nominated mandolin virtuoso Avi Avital  has performed on the world’s most prestigious stages, from Carnegie Hall in New York to the Forbidden City Concert Hall in Beijing. ISRAEL21c caught up with Avital via Skype during a multicity Irish tour in April – and we do mean “caught,” as the musician spends half the year rushing from one city to another for performances. His May itinerary included concerts in California, several German cities, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Salisbury (UK) and Lancut (Poland). Despite his frenetic concert schedule, Avital’s mandolin-plucking is suffused with extraordinary energy, punctuated by a dazzling smile beneath his mop of dark hair. “A lot of people come to me backstage and are concerned that I must be very tired,” he tells ISRAEL21c with a laugh. “But concerts always energize me. This is an energy that comes from inside. I’m very much attached to what I do spiritually. With all my being, I love it and I feel how important it is, and I can’t wait for the moment to go onstage. I would be happy to perform every night.” In 2010, the Beersheva native became the first mandolin player to receive a Grammy nomination for best instrumental soloist. He has won numerous competitions and awards, and recently released his third album, Vivaldi, recorded with the Venice Baroque Orchestra. The mandolin is not a usual instrument for children to choose, nor is the Negev city of Beersheva the usual breeding ground for world-class Israeli musicians, who tend to grow up closer to the cultural epicenter of Tel Aviv. (via Israel21c)


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