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.
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.