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Iran's most sensitive uranium stockpile falls after nuclear deal

Published on Feb 21, 2014 3:26 AM

VIENNA (REUTERS) - The size of Iran's most contested uranium stockpile has declined significantly for the first time in four years following a landmark nuclear deal with world powers in November, the UN atomic watchdog reported on Thursday.

As a result, Iran's holding of uranium gas enriched to a fissile purity of 20 per cent - a relatively short technical step away from the level required for nuclear weapons - is now well below the amount needed for a bomb, if processed more.

That stockpile is closely watched: Israel, Iran's arch-enemy and believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power, warned in 2012 that there would be a "red line" for possible military action against Iranian nuclear sites if its Tehran amassed enough such refined uranium for a single bomb.

Iran agreed under a Nov. 24 deal with six big powers to shelve its 20 per cent enrichment, begun in 2010. It has since diluted some of this uranium to a lower concentration and converted some into less proliferation-prone oxide.

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