By: Erez Linn, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff; Israel Hayom – israelhayom.com

Iran transferred its 20%-enriched uranium to Russia as part of deal but has already received a batch back, says Iranian official • He says fuel necessary for “domestic needs” and if nuclear deal ends, Iran “would feel unimpeded” to produce 20% uranium.

The Natanz nuclear facility in Iran | Illustration: AFP

Iran will reclaim a ‎portion of the 20%-enriched uranium stockpile it ‎surrendered to Russia as part of the 2015 nuclear ‎deal with world powers, Iran’s Fars news agency ‎reported Sunday.‎

Under the nuclear agreement, Iran committed to shipping out ‎all except 300 kilograms (650 pounds) of its low-‎enriched uranium, and either to export its 20%-enriched uranium ‎– a ‎level ‎after which further refinement to weapons-grade ‎purity is relatively easy – or process it down into low-‎enriched uranium, or turn it into fuel plates to power a ‎research reactor.‎

Behrouz Kamalvandi, deputy director of Iran’s Atomic ‎Energy Organization, said the reimposition of U.S. ‎sanctions following U.S. President Donald Trump’s pullout from the nuclear accord in May makes reclaiming the uranium ‎necessary for “domestic needs.”‎

‎”If the fuel is sold to us, we do not need to ‎produce it by ourselves,” Kamalvandi told Fars. “If the ‎nuclear deal remains alive, the other sides should ‎sell us the fuel and if the nuclear deal dies, then ‎we would feel unimpeded to produce the 20% fuel ‎ourselves.”‎

Kamalvandi said Iran stopped producing 20%-enriched ‎uranium and transferred its stockpile to Russia in ‎‎10 batches under the 2015 deal. ‎Russia had already returned one batch of the fuel ‎earlier this year at Iran’s request, and a second ‎would be returned soon, he said.‎

Iran has repeatedly threatened to resume its nuclear ‎program if the 2015 accord is voided, with ‎President Hassan Rouhani saying it could do ‎so within days. ‎

In recent weeks, as tensions with the U.S. have grown, ‎Iran has prominently displayed its centrifuges and ‎threatened to resume enriching uranium, including to ‎weapons-grade, at higher rates. ‎

Trump has offered talks on a “more comprehensive ‎deal” but Iran said it would not negotiate under the ‎pressure of sanctions. ‎

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told ‎the Tasnim news agency Saturday that he had no plans ‎to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or ‎other U.S. officials on the sidelines of the ‎U.N. General Assembly in New York next month, which ‎both Rouhani and Trump plan to attend.‎

The 73rd session of the General Assembly is ‎scheduled to run Sept. 18-25. ‎

‎”Americans are not honest and their addiction to ‎sanctions does not allow any negotiation to take ‎place,” Zarif said. ‎

This is considered Iran’s most explicit rejection of ‎renewed nuclear talks to date.‎

 


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