Iran Producing Less Weapons-Grade Material

Aaron Foyer
Iranian ministers touring nuclear site
Courtesy of the BBC

Uranium is at the centre of international intrigue like it’s, well, uranium. Two countries on two continents are currently making headlines with their role in the radioactive substance.

First, Iran: According to the UN atomic watchdog, The Islamic State of Iran has secretly been negotiating and reducing its production of weapons-grade uranium.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency announced the country had increased its stockpile of enriched uranium by just 7 percent last quarter. That marks a big slowdown from the 30 percent increase in the previous quarter.

  • Iran started enriching uranium to 60 percent following an attack on its largest nuclear facility in 2021, an attack the country blamed on Israel. That purity level is below the 90 percent required for nuclear weapons, but still not a trend anyone likes to see.

The shift comes after months of secret diplomacy between Tehran and Washington. In return for reducing its enriched uranium production, Iran has been allowed to slowly resume oil exports through relaxed sanctions on oil sales.

The Niger coup: Globally, uranium prices have been on a tear since the military coup that took place in July in Niger. The West African country is the seventh largest producer of uranium globally.

Retail investors are increasingly interested in trading uranium, with a London-based company that physically holds uranium stockpiles called Yellow Cake being a trader fav.

  • Yellow Cake’s stock price has risen 8 percent since the Niger coup and 22 percent since the start of the year.

Zoom out: According to a note published by the Financial Times, “there’s a bullish twist emerging in uranium’s global market backdrop”. These are the latest sign that people are warming to nuclear being invited back into the “Cool Energy” group chat.