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No Country Obligated to Buy Heavy Water from Iran

Monday, May 30, 2016

Iran has downplayed a vote at the US House of Representatives to bar the American government from purchasing heavy water from Iran in the future.

Last month, the US government completed an $8.6-million deal to buy 32 metric tons of heavy water from Iran. On Wednesday May 25, 251 American lawmakers voted for a bill that would prohibit such purchases next year. The measure is yet to be approved by the US Senate.

“The bill would be unimportant even if it is ratified,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Legal and International Affairs Abbas Araqchi said.

“Essentially, in line with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), neither the US nor any other country is obligated to buy heavy water from Iran,” he said.

“Iran is only obligated to offer its surplus of heavy water to international markets for sale,” Araqchi said, adding, “Heavy water is a valuable commodity and there are many who are willing to buy.”

The United States has, subject to the deal, agreed to buy the heavy water from Iran, and the Islamic Republic is in talks with other countries, which would potentially buy 40 more metric tons, the official said.

He also said Iran “still continues production of heavy water” and is in talks to sell “around 40 other tons” of the highly sought-after product.

He said there were attempts underway at promoting Iranophobia by radical forces within the US and the region in order to prevent Tehran from availing itself of the opportunities provided by the JCPOA.

These are the same movements, which tried all they could to prevent the nuclear negotiations from bearing result. Now they have turned their focus onto this issue after their failed sabotage attempts, the Iranian official added.

A working group in Iran is preparing a suit to see into the United States’ seizure of the nation's assets, the top Foreign Ministry official also said.

“The government has formed a special working group in this regard,” he said, adding, an investigation was being conducted.

Iranian lawyers are pondering on “how to deal with the seizure of two billion dollars of Iranian assets,” Araqchi said.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) also said European countries have voiced readiness to buy 20 tons of heavy water from the Islamic Republic.

Ali Akbar Salehi said, “We can produce 20 tons of heavy water per year.”

“There are customers for this strategic commodity. One should not forget that there are few countries which can produce heavy water.”

Salehi said Tehran has conditioned the sale on on Washington's full payment of the purchase in advance.

“They should deposit the money first,” Salehi said, noting, “We are also in talks with Russians to sell them 40 tons.”

The official further announced that the country’s Fordow nuclear facility is to host a number of new activities, including production of “stable isotopes,” most of which have already been undertaken in cooperation with Moscow.

“We intend to turn part of Fordow into a very advanced technical and scientific laboratory,” Salehi said.

Tehran has consulted the European Union regarding the type of the facility, which is planned to be capable of offering its services to regional and international markets as well, he added.

The Iranian official also said the country had formed a task force together with the US and China to modernize the Arak heavy water reactor.

"This project too is making good progress…We hope to witness inauguration of the modern reactor over the next five years."

The official also hailed the fact that 73 percent of the country’s soil had been examined in search for new uranium resources, saying the missions had “returned very promising news.”

Salehi concluded that Tehran and Moscow had inked agreements aimed at construction of two new nuclear reactors.

The UN nuclear agency has also verified Iran’s compliance with the landmark nuclear agreement, dubbed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), reached between Tehran and the P5+1 group of countries in July 2015.

In its second quarterly assessment since the implementation of the JCPOA in January, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran "has not pursued the construction of the existing Arak heavy water research reactor" and has "not enriched uranium" above low levels.

"Throughout the reporting period, Iran had no more than 130 metric tonnes of heavy water ... Iran's total (low) enriched uranium stockpile did not exceed 300 kg," the IAEA added.

According to the UN nuclear agency, no enriched uranium has been accumulated through research and development activities.

"All stored centrifuges and associated infrastructure have remained in storage under continuous Agency (IAEA) monitoring," the report pointed out.

*Photo Credit: Press TV

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