WASHINGTON (AP) — A State Department official says the US does not know the precise location of tons of low-enriched uranium shipped out of Iran on a Russian vessel under a landmark nuclear agreement signed last summer.
Testifying Thursday, Ambassador Stephen Mull told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the stockpile is a Russian custody issue.
As part of the July 2015 deal, Iran had to ship out all except 300 kilograms (over 660 pounds) of the close to nine tons of low-enriched uranium it has stockpiled. Low-enriched uranium is suited to power generation but can be further enriched to arm nuclear warheads.
The Russia-Iran agreement foresees that Moscow ship Iran around 140 tons of raw uranium in exchange for Tehran’s low-enriched uranium.
Critics of the nuclear deal seized on the shipment’s status to show the agreement’s flaws. Republican Congressman Chris Smith said it’s “outrageous and unbelievable” that Russia is being trusted to be the repository for such sensitive material. Russia is a close ally of Iran.
Mull said he is confident the material will be controlled properly.
Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have been critical of the Obama administration-led nuclear deal struck between six world powers and Iran, which led to a gradual lifting of sanctions on the Islamic Republic in exchange for international checks and a broad roll-back of its nuclear program.
Israel, too, has criticized the agreement, arguing that it leaves key elements of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure intact, and thus only temporarily delays its ability to break out toward a nuclear weapon.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.