• The U.S. dropped out of the JCPOA in 2018 and began reimposing sanctions on Iran
  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said those sanctions have cost Tehran $200 billion
  • The JCPOA allows uranium enrichment to 3.67%, but the IAEA says Iran is now enriching to 4.5%

The International Atomic Energy Agency found Iran has increased its uranium stockpile in violation of its agreement with world powers, the Associated Press and Bloomberg reported Friday. In a report that has yet to be released, the U.N. watchdog reported Tehran increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by half since February.

The IAEA said it has kept up its inspection regime despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 8,100 Iranians, but has serious concerns over being denied access to two sites.

“This is adversely affecting the agency’s ability to clarify and resolve the questions,” Bloomberg quoted the report as saying.

Iran steadily has been building up its uranium stockpile since President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2018 and began reimposing sanctions, accusing Iran of violating the accord, which allows Iran just 447 pounds of enriched uranium. The IAEA report said the stockpile had grown to 1.73 tons as of May 20, up from 1.1 tons in February.

Before the U.S. pulled out of the agreement, the IAEA said Iran was largely in compliance. Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia remain in the pact, which was signed in 2015 and designed to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons, and have urged Iran to abide by it. Tehran maintains it is not developing nuclear weapons and is enriching the uranium for medical and energy purposes.

The report said Iran also has increased the purity of its stockpile, boosting it to 4.5% despite a JCPOA limit of 3.67%. The amount of heavy water the country has also is up. Weapons-grade uranium is enriched to 90%.

Last week, the U.S. revoked waivers permitting some companies to work on nuclear projects in Iran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said it December U.S. sanctions have cost the country $200 billion in foreign-exchange income and investment, including $100 billion in oil revenue in the last two years. Experts speculate the nuclear violations are a means of pressuring the remaining world powers in the pact to make up for the U.S. sanctions.