Iran has produced a small amount of uranium metal banned under the 2015 nuclear deal that could be used to form the core of a nuclear weapon, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Iran began producing natural uranium metal on Saturday at a facility in Isfahan, according to the Journal, which cited a confidential United Nations report that it viewed.
Uranium metal must be highly enriched for use in the core of a nuclear weapon, the newspaper noted.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a report last month that Iran told the agency it started developing equipment to produce uranium metal in Isfahan.
An IAEA spokesperson confirmed to the Journal that the production of the uranium metal is part of Iran's “stated aim to produce fuel” for a reactor in Tehran. The agency added that the production was part of research work that Iranian officials reported to the agency last month.
The moves come as Iran has resumed 20 percent uranium enrichment. Iran’s Parliament passed a law last year that included resuming enrichment after its top nuclear scientist was killed in a strike that officials in Tehran have blamed on Israel.
Iran’s production of uranium metal is expected to increase tensions between the country and the U.S.
Iran’s foreign minister last week said that the U.S. has to take the first steps to restore the Obama-era nuclear deal, which the Trump administration exited in 2018.
Biden administration officials have said they will consider returning to the Iran deal when the country complies with the agreement, which it has violated several times since the Trump administration’s exit.
The White House earlier this month reiterated President BidenJoe BidenBiden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day Business lobby calls for administration to 'pump the brakes' on vaccine mandate Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Afghanistan reckoning shows no signs of stopping MORE’s position that Iran must come back into compliance with the nuclear deal before the United States returns to it remains unchanged.
The IAEA in November said Iran had accumulated over 12 times its allowed uranium stockpile under the 2015 deal.