Kerry hails Iran’s ‘progress’ in complying with nuclear deal
By Ben Ariel
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday said Iran made “significant progress” in keeping up its end of the nuclear deal with world powers, after it was reported that the Islamic Republic sent a major shipment of low-enriched uranium materials to Russia, AFP reports.
Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, told the localISNA news agency, “The fuel exchange process has taken place.”
The Russian foreign ministry confirmed the report, according to AFP.
ISNA’s report said Iran had sent 8.5 tons of low-enriched nuclear material to Russia and received “around 140 tons of natural uranium in return.”
Washington described the shipment as 25,000 pounds of “low-enriched uranium materials.”
This, in Kerry’s words, represents “all of Iran’s nuclear material enriched to 20 percent that was not already in the form of fabricated fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor.”
Under the deal struck in July between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers, Tehran agreed to cut its low-enriched uranium stockpile to less than 300 kilograms (660 pounds).
This would mean that it would not have enough fuel on hand to rapidly enrich enough to the levels needed to build a nuclear weapon — lengthening its so-called “breakout time” to more than a year.
Kerry said on Monday that Iran’s shipment to Russia had already tripled the amount of time it would take to produce enough fuel for a bomb from two or three months up to six or nine, according to AFP.
He said the shipment to Russia was “a significant step toward Iran meeting its commitment to have no more than 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium by Implementation Day.”
On Sunday, Iranian officials said the nuclear agreement between Tehran and the six Western powers will come into force in early January.
The implementation of the deal comes despite a December 2 report from the International Atomic Energy
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