Iran disputes cap on heavy water under nuclear deal
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Iran disputes cap on heavy water under nuclear deal

Tehran argues it should be allowed to hold more than the 130-ton limit as it searches for buyers for the excess material

Iran's heavy water nuclear facility, near the central city of Arak (AP/ISNA, Hamid Foroutan/File)
Iran's heavy water nuclear facility, near the central city of Arak (AP/ISNA, Hamid Foroutan/File)

Iran has said it may not agree to adhere to limitations on its heavy water stockpile, as stipulated in the nuclear deal reached with world powers in 2015.

The accord limits Tehran’s permitted level of heavy water — a modified form of water used in certain types of nuclear reactors — to 130 tons. It says excess heavy water will be exported to international markets.

In a new letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran challenged the 130-ton cap, Reuters reported, saying it should be allowed to hold more than the imposed amount as it searches for buyers.

In its letter to the IAEA Thursday Tehran insisted that “nothing in the (agreement) requires Iran to ship out the excess heavy water which is made available to the international market but has not yet found an actual buyer to which the heavy water needs to be delivered.”

In late February the UN watchdog said Iran was complying with the nuclear deal.

Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also a member of Iran's nuclear negotiating team, speaks with journalists upon his arrival to Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, July 15, 2015 (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also a member of Iran’s nuclear negotiating team, speaks with journalists upon his arrival to Mehrabad Airport in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, July 15, 2015 (AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

The IAEA’s latest report said Iran has not exceeded the permitted level of 130 tons, as it did briefly during previous periods.

In November 2016, the atomic watchdog noted that Iran had crept above the 130-ton limit.

Tehran shipped out the excess amount and its current stock was just above 124 tons, the latest report said.

And Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium — which can be used for peaceful purposes, but when further processed for a nuclear weapon — was 101.7 kilos (225 pounds), well below the agreed level of 300 kilos.

Verification has continued as agreed, according to the UN watchdog’s fifth quarterly assessment since the pact was struck.

Under the accord, Iran dramatically scaled back nuclear activities to put atomic weapons out of its reach — an aim Tehran always denied having — in exchange for the relief of crippling sanctions.

The agreement extends to at least a year the length of time Tehran would need to make one nuclear bomb’s worth of fissile material — up from a few months prior.

Steps taken by Iran included slashing by two-thirds its uranium centrifuges, cutting its stockpile of uranium and removing the core of the Arak reactor which could have given Iran weapons-grade plutonium.

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