TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has exported heavy water, a key component for one kind of nuclear reactor, to the United States as part of a landmark nuclear agreement, the country’s semi-official ISNA news agency reported on Tuesday.
The report by ISNA quoted Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi as saying that 32 tons of heavy water have been “sold” to the US since the agreement was implemented in January.
Araqchi, who is in charge of observing implementation of the nuclear deal from the Iranian side, did not disclose the financial aspects of the sale or say why Iran exported heavy water only to the US and not to other countries — such as Britain, France, Germany Russia and China — that had reached the deal with Iran in July.
This is the first high-tech product that Iran has sold to the United States. Before international sanctions were imposed on Iran over its controversial nuclear program, Iran had exported caviar, carpets and pistachios to the US.
However, Araqchi did say that since January, Iran exported 10 tons of 3.5 percent enriched uranium to Russia and at the same time imported 140 tons of yellow cake, or uranium ore concentrate that is convertible to enriched uranium, from Moscow.
Iran also imported some 60 tons of yellow cake from Kazakhstan.
Those sales are all permissible under the nuclear deal that lifted sanctions imposed on Iran in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.
Heavy water, formed with a hydrogen isotope, has research and medical applications, but can also be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium. In January, Iran expressed hopes to export excess heavy water produced in the country’s only heavy water reactor in Arak to the U.S. through a third country, for uses in research.
It said then that Savannah River National Laboratory near Jackson, South Carolina, has certified high purity of heavy water produced by Iran.
Iran is still expected to produce some 20 metric tons (22 tons) of heavy water at Arak a year. It has said it would domestically consume about 6 tons for medical isotopes and is looking to export the rest.
Under the deal with world powers, Iran is allowed to use heavy water in its modified Arak nuclear reactor, but must sell any excess supply of both heavy water and enriched uranium on the international market.
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.