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Iran, Russia Begin Swapping Nuclear Materials

Obama administration aware of Russia-Iran nuclear exchange

FILE - In this Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007 file photo, an Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility just outside the city of Isfahan 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran. State TV says the Guardian Council, Iran's constitutional watchdog, ratified a bill Wednesday, June 24, 2015, banning access to military sites and scientists as Tehran and world powers approach a deadline for reaching a comprehensive nuclear deal. The bill would allow for international inspections of Iranian nuclear sites within the framework of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi, File)


Russia and Iran are beginning to trade sensitive nuclear materials, an activity that is at least in part condoned by the Obama administration and permissible under the tenets of the recent nuclear accord, according to U.S. and Iranian officials.

Russian-made yellow cake, a type of uranium powder that helps turn it into a nuclear fuel, “is in Iran and Iran’s enriched uranium cargo will be sent to Russia” within the next several days, according to top Iranian officials quoted this week in the country’s state-run press.

Senior U.S. officials confirmed on Thursday that the Obama administration backs the opening of commercial nuclear trade between Moscow and Tehran.

“Commercial contracts are in place for Iran to ship its enriched uranium stockpiles to Russia,” Stephen Mull, a State Department official who is leading the administration’s charge to implement the nuclear deal, told lawmakers.

“We expect that this material, about 25,000 pounds of … low enriched uranium, will leave Iran in the coming weeks” and make its way to Russia, according to Mull.

This trade is permitted under the parameters of the nuclear agreement, according to Mull and other U.S. officials who testified before Congress on Thursday.

Iranian officials say that they intend to send up to nine tons of enriched uranium to the Russians in exchange for yellow cake powder.

“The yellow cake cargo has been imported and is in [the city of] Isfahan (now) and Iran’s enriched uranium will be loaded into a Russian ship in coming days and will be delivered to that country,” Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s atomic energy organization, told Iranian reporters on Wednesday.

Iran has further vowed to commercialize its nuclear technology once the deal is implemented.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials detailed plans to create a “procurement channel” by which Iran can obtain nuclear technology and other related materials.

The nuclear agreement allows for the “creation of a procurement channel that can meet the limited, legitimate nuclear needs that Iran may have,” Thomas Countryman, an assistant secretary of state in the Bureau Of International Security and Nonproliferation, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The National Nuclear Security Administration also will have a role in deciding what nuclear goods Iran may import going forward.

The nuclear accord “establishes a process for review


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