Tehran has decided to bring back the batches of highly enriched uranium from Russia which it had removed from the country as part of the nuclear deal, reported the Fars news agency, citing Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).
“When we signed the nuclear deal, we stopped production of 20% fuel and deposited the excessive fuel in Russia in nearly 10 batches. We received the first batch nearly seven months ago and the second batch is about to be transferred back to Iran,” the spokesman said.
Kamalvandi noted that each batch of 20% enriched uranium stored in Russia can fuel Tehran’s research reactor for one year. Thus once all batches are returned, they will have enough to power the reactor for 7-8 years.
He also recalled that, in accordance with the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran stopped producing enriched uranium, in exchange for shipments of nuclear fuel from abroad. However, the United States’ withdrawal from the deal threatens these agreements. “If the nuclear deal remains in force, other sides should sell us fuel, and if the deal falls through, we would feel unimpeded to produce 20% enriched fuel ourselves,” Kamalvandi emphasized.
In May, following the US’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran is prepared to resume production of enriched uranium, if European countries also pull out of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, informally known as the nuclear deal. On June 5, Tehran announced that it was bringing nuclear fuel production back on line.
According to the terms of the nuclear deal, which was signed by Iran, the US, Russia, China, France, Germany and the UK, Iran was obligated to scale down its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. One of the terms of the agreement was that excess enriched uranium suitable for producing nuclear weapons would have to be withdrawn from the country, in exchange for low-enriched uranium for nuclear power stations. Some of the enriched uranium was sent to Russia.
20% enriched uranium is considered highly-enriched or weapons-grade, and can be used to produce nuclear weapons. Iran enriched its uranium at the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant.