IRAN will be capable of building nuclear weapons within months, the UN's nuclear watchdog has warned

The country’s hardline president Ebrahim Raisi, known as the ‘butcher’ for allegedly ordering killings and torture when head of the judiciary, has been speeding up its nuclear programme.

ReutersIran's President Ebrahim Raisi has been speeding up the country's nuclear programme '/ '

APFears have been raised the country is seeking to develop nuclear weapons '/ '

The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that it now has 17.7kg of uranium enriched to 60 per cent purity.

That’s one level below weapons grade and the quantity is up from 10kg at the time of the last report in August.

About 20kg is sufficient for a bomb, and at the present rate of enrichment that amount could be reached within a few months. 

Rafael Grossi, the head of the IAEA, is due to visit Iran on Monday in a bid to persuade Iran to allow  access to CCTV used by international inspectors, which Tehran has blocked.

He has said it is “astonishing” that there has been no contact with the Iran over its nuclear programme since Raisi was elected.

Under a deal struck with the international community in 2015, known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran agreed to restrict enrichment to 3.5 per cent.

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That would be enough to use for civilian nuclear power but not to make weapons.

But after then US President Donald Trump tore up the deal in 2018, Iran has been increasing the enrichment level of its uranium.

Diplomats optimistic about resuming the 2015 deal hope Iran's nuclear activity is aimed at building a bargaining position.

Raisi was elected in August and has coupled speeding up the programme with making ever greater demands on the US, at a risk of collapsing the talks entirely.

Earlier this year, it was feared Iran was secretly building a nuclear bomb by hiding the machinery needed to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels.

The equipment reportedly being hidden from sight includes essential parts and pumps for centrifuges - the machines used to enrich uranium to weapons grade.

Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation (AEOI) claimed it had the ability to enrich uranium to 90 per cent weapons-grade levels ...if needed....

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