The United States is urging Tehran to “cease its nuclear escalations” and return to negotiations aimed at reviving a 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers after the UN atomic watchdog reported that Iran continues to produce uranium metal.
"Iran has no credible need to produce uranium metal, which has direct relevance to nuclear weapons development," U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement late on August 16.
Price's statement came in response to a report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna to member nations that noted inspectors have confirmed Iran produced 200 grams of uranium metal enriched up to 20 percent.
Uranium metal can be used to build the core of a nuclear bomb.
Iran announced in January that it intended to research uranium metal production, saying the advanced fuel was needed for a research reactor. Germany, France, and Britain stated that they were "deeply concerned" by the announcement.
Under the Iran nuclear accord, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran committed to not produce uranium metal. But it breached that promise as one of a series of steps it took in violation of the JCPOA after former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the deal and reimposed sanctions.
U.S. President Joe Biden says he wants to return to the deal, but indirect talks in Vienna brokered by the Europeans to get both Washington and Tehran back into compliance with the accord have stalled.
The 2015 deal, whose parties also included France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China, set an easing of sanctions against Tehran in return for curbs on its nuclear program, which Iran claims is strictly for civilian purposes.