The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

America to buy nuclear material from Iran

U.S. to buy nuclear material from Iran By Jim Sciutto and Ryan Browne, CNN April 22, 2016 Washington The U.S. will purchase from Iran 32 metric tons of heavy water, a key component of nuclear reactors, according to a senior administration official.

The official told CNN the goal of the transaction is to get the heavy water out of Iran in the same way the Iran nuclear deal compelled Iran to ship its supply of enriched uranium to Russia.
Reducing its stockpile of nuclear materials like enriched uranium and heavy water is a key component of the Iran nuclear deal.
“The importance of heavy water to a nuclear proliferator is that it provides one more route to produce plutonium for use in (nuclear) weapons,” the Federation of American Scientists said.
The U.S. will spend $8.6 million for the heavy water, with the U.S. official saying the arrangement will likely be revenue-neutral since the Department of Energy will resell the heavy water to commercial and lab facilities in the U.S., including the Oak Ridge National Lab.
The official said the U.S. can’t make heavy water domestically and, as a result, the U.S. lacks an inventory to use for science and research……… the administration official said the new arrangement complied with all elements of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the administration’s official term for the Iran nuclear deal…..

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Trouble for nuclear deal: Iranian banks unable to process global financial transactions.

Iran’s Central Bank Chief Warns Banking-Access Issues Jeopardize Nuclear Deal Valiollah Seif says Obama administration needs to help facilitate Iran’s banking transactions world-wide WSJ, By  JAY SOLOMON in Washington, ASA FITCH in Dubai, and BENOIT FAUCON in London April 15, 2016

Iran’s central bank governor, in a rare visit to Washington, demanded the Obama administration take more steps to facilitate his country’s banking transactions world-wide and warned the landmark nuclear agreement reached last year could be at risk if the U.S. doesn’t act.

Iranian banks have been unable to process international money transfers and finance trade freely in the months since the deal went into effect in January. Iran also has faced obstacles in repatriating tens of billions of dollars of its oil revenues that were frozen in overseas accounts under U.S. sanctions. Some Western banks have acknowledged avoiding dealings with Iran due to fears of crossing the U.S. Treasury.

The troubles have jeopardized the big economic dividend the government hoped to secure from the nuclear deal Iran and six world powers struck last July, and underscored the West’s lingering suspicion toward Tehran.

Iran agreed to scale back its nuclear program in exchange for relief from international sanctions that hurt its economy. “They need to do whatever is needed to honor their commitments,” Iran’s central bank governor Valiollah Seif said during a 90-minute presentation that came on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings in Washington on Friday. ”Otherwise, the [Iran nuclear deal] breaks up under its own terms,” he said.

Mr. Seif’s comments came a day after a face-to-face meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew that was largely focused on Iranian demands for more sanctions relief in the wake of the landmark nuclear accord, according to Iranian and U.S. officials.

The U.S. and other world powers agreed to lift most sanctions on Iran as part of the deal. But the Treasury still bars Iran from using the U.S. financial system or the American dollar…….

April 16, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

USA, EU not honouring nuclear deal – says Iran official

Iran Official Accuses US, EU of Not Honoring Nuclear Deal By MARIA DANILOVA, abc news, ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON — Apr 15, 2016, A top Iranian official on Friday accused the U.S. and the European Union of failing to honor last year’s nuclear deal by keeping Iran locked out of the international financial system.

The White House insisted Washington is committed to fulfilling its part of the accord and said Tehran wants concessions that weren’t part of the deal.

The historic accord took effect in January and envisions Iran curtailing its nuclear program in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

The head of Iran’s central bank, Valiollah Seif, said in a speech Friday that Iran’s counterparts have not lived up to their commitments and that “almost nothing” has been done as part of the deal.

“In general, we are not able to use our frozen funds abroad,” Seif said at the Council on Foreign Relations through a translator. Seif was in Washington to attend the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. “They (Iran’s partners) have not honored their obligations.”

He urged Washington to do more to encourage international banks to do business with Iran and ease Iran’s access to U.S. financial institutions. Otherwise, he said, the deal “breaks up on its own terms.” He did not elaborate……

April 16, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

USA Secretary of State defends nuclear pact with Tehran

diplomacy-not-bombsFlag-USAflag-IranKerry on Iran nuclear deal: If they’re cheating, we’ll know it Secretary of state defends pact with Tehran ahead of expected grilling by angry Republicans in Congress, Times of Israel,   BY RICHARD LARDNER April 5, 2016,WASHINGTON (AP) — US Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday defended the landmark nuclear deal the United States made with Iran ahead of a congressional hearing where Senate Republicans are expected to hammer the Obama administration for considering the easing of financial restrictions against Tehran.
Kerry acknowledged the harsh criticism of the arrangement, which is designed to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power, telling MSNBC there’s a furious debate even in Iran over whether Tehran should choose missiles over dialogue.
“I think what you’re seeing there is tension” between moderates and hard-liners over Iran’s future course, Kerry said.

Kerry’s remarks came just hours ahead of a scheduled hearing by the GOP-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the implementation of the nuclear accord. Thomas Shannon, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, will testify.

The committee’s hearing comes amid reports that the administration may relax the prohibition that prevents US dollars from being used in transactions with Iran. Angry lawmakers, who contend the US was taken advantage of in the deal, have countered that Tehran would be getting more than it deserves from the international nuclear pact reached last year.

While no final decision has been made, officials told The Associated Press the Treasury Department has prepared a general license permitting offshore financial institutions to access dollars for foreign currency trades in support of legitimate business with Iran, a practice that is currently illegal.

Several restrictions would apply, but the change could prove significant for Iran’s sanctions-battered economy. It also would be highly contentious in the United States, where Republican and several Democratic lawmakers say the administration promised to maintain a strict ban on dollars along with other non-nuclear penalties on Iran after last July’s seven-nation nuclear agreement.

The nuclear pact provided Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief for curtailing programs that could lead to nuclear weapons. But the Iranians say they haven’t benefited to the extent envisioned under the deal because of other US measures linked to human rights, terrorism and missile development concerns.

Kerry told MSNBC that Iran “needs to make some clear decisions about the role that it intends to play in the region and the world.”

Kerry added, “if they’re cheating, we will know it.”……..

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Very serious consequences if Iran nuclear deal scrapped

U.S. warns of dire consequences if diplomacy-not-bombsFlag-USA By Nicole Gaouette  April 5, 2016 Washington (CNN)The Obama administration warned of dire consequences Tuesday should the next occupant of the Oval Office scrap the Iran nuclear deal.

The accord to curb Tehran’s program in exchange for sanctions relief has become a popular punching bag on the GOP presidential campaign trail, with one candidate, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, threatening to tear it up on Day One of his administration.
At a Capitol Hill hearing, a top State Department official pushed back at the Republican criticism in an effort to keep its hard-won implementation on track.
Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that if the next president withdraws from the deal, it could be calamitous.
“Any effort to step away from (the deal) would reopen a Pandora’s box in that region that would be hard to close again,” Shannon said. A decision to exit the deal could trigger Iran’s return to its nuclear weapons program, Shannon said, a possibility that many analysts say could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East as Tehran’s regional rivals, such as Saudi Arabia, work to match it.
A U.S. rejection of the deal “would be grasped by hardliners in Iran to assert that we were an unreliable interlocutor,” Shannon said, and would be seen as “was a clear signal that they needed to return to their nuclear program.”
With the deal in place, Shannon maintained, the pact “will allow for a program that is exclusively peaceful.”
He also argued that stepping away from the deal would send ripples through close U.S. relationships as well.
“This would be an issue of concern” for those allies who negotiated the deal with Iran alongside the U.S., Shannon said, and would send a message that the U.S. isn’t able to maintain consistent policies from one administration to another……..

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Iran says that its missile tests don’t violate nuclear agreement, U.N. resolution

Iran: Missile tests don’t violate nuclear agreement, U.N. resolution , USA TODAY March 10, Iran on Thursday rejected claims that missile tests conducted this week violate the nuclear agreement it reached with the U.S. and other nations or a United Nations resolution.

Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari said the missiles were conventional armaments for “legitimate defense” and not designed for carrying nuclear warheads, the state-controlled IRNA news agency reported……..

The nuclear deal does not directly address missile restrictions. The U.N. Security Council lifted its ban on such testing when the deal was struck, but passed a resolution that “calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles … including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”………..

March 11, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Big win for Rouhani and Reform in Iran elections

Rouhani And Reformers Wins Big In First Iran’s Post-Nuclear Deal Election, Huffington Post Millions crowded polling stations on Friday to vote in the first post-nuclear deal election. 02/28/2016 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani won a strong vote of confidence and reformist partners secured surprise gains in parliament in early results from elections that could speed up the Islamic Republic’s emergence from years of isolation.

While gains by moderates and reformists in Friday’s polls were most evident in the capital, where they won all Tehran’s 30 seats according to early results, the sheer scale of the advances there suggests a legislature more friendly to the pragmatist Rouhani has emerged as a distinct possibility.

A loosening of control by the anti-Western hardliners who currently dominate the 290-seat parliament could strengthen his hand to open Iran further to foreign trade and investment following last year’s breakthrough nuclear deal.

A reformist-backed list of candidates aligned with Rouhani was on course to win all 30 parliamentary seats in Tehran, initial results released on Sunday showed. Top conservative candidate Gholamali Haddad Adel was set to lose his seat.

“The people showed their power once again and gave more credibility and strength to their elected government,” Rouhani said, adding he would work with anyone who won election to build a future for the industrialised, oil-exporting country.

“The competition is over and the phase of unity and cooperation has arrived,” state news agency IRNA quoted his key ally, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, as saying. “The time after elections is the time for hard work to build the country”.

There was silence from the conservative camp.

The polls were seen by analysts as a potential turning point for Iran, where nearly 60 percent of its 80 million population is under 30 and eager to engage with the world following the lifting of most sanctions…..

February 29, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics | Leave a comment

International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is abiding by nuclear agreement

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranIran Abiding by Nuclear Deal, UN Agency Says International Atomic Energy Agency’s report says Tehran keeping within limits of July agreement, WSJK  By LAURENCE NORMAN Feb. 26, 2016 Iran has carried out most of its commitments under the nuclear agreement reached in July, the United Nations’ atomic agency said Friday, although for a time it exceeded the permitted amount of heavy water, which can be used to produce plutonium.

In its first report on Iran’s compliance deal since the agreement went into effect in mid-January, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran’s stock of heavy water had reached 130.9 tons, above the 130 tons limited permitted by the deal, the diplomats said.

However, the stockpile fell when Iran shipped 20 tons of heavy water out of the country on Wednesday. The IAEA verified the amount that was shipped, the report said.

One diplomat said the IAEA allows for a margin of error of 1 percentage point in such measurements, which means that Iran wasn’t technically over the limit…..

The nuclear deal saw Iran agree to scale back its nuclear activities and infrastructure in exchange for the lifting of tight, related sanctions imposed by the U.S., the European Union and the United Nations…….

February 27, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | 8 Comments

Iran has kept all its commitments on nuclear deal

flag-IranU.S. Official: Iran Has Kept Commitments On Nuclear Deal So Far, Radio Free Europe,  By Golnaz Esfandiari February 11, 2016

WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. official says Iran so far has kept its commitments under the nuclear agreement with world powers implemented last month.

Stephen Mull, the State Department’s lead coordinator for implementing the deal curbing Iran’s nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief, told the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on February 11 that there is no evidence that Tehran is cheating.

“Whenever we’ve detected that there may be a potential for moving away from the commitments, we’ve engaged with our Iranian counterparts, and they’ve addressed those concerns every single time,” Mull said.

Mull and John Smith, acting director of the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, testified at the first senior-level congressional hearing held on the nuclear deal since it was implemented on January 16……

February 12, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Sanctions lifted as Iran complies with nuclear deal

flag-IranIran Complies With Nuclear Deal; Sanctions Are Lifted, NYT, By  JAN. 16, 2016 VIENNA — The United States and European nations lifted oil and financial sanctions on Iran and released roughly $100 billion of its assets after international inspectors concluded that the country had followed through on promises to dismantle large sections of its nuclear program.

This came at the end of a day of high drama that played out in a diplomatic dance across Europe and the Middle East, just hours after Tehran and Washington swapped long-held prisoners.

……..“Iran has undertaken significant steps that many people — and I do mean many — doubted would ever come to pass,” Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday evening at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, which earlier issued a report detailing how Iran had shipped 98 percent of its fuel to Russia, dismantled more than 12,000 centrifuges so they could not enrich uranium, and poured cement into the core of a reactor designed to produce plutonium………

January 18, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Against all reason, Republican hawks still trying to sabotage Iran nuclear agreement

Republican hawk (Trump)Opponents of Iran Nuclear Deal Just Won’t Quit Opponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and six world powers to deal with Iran’s nuclear program mounted a massive campaign last summer, spending tens of millions of dollars to sabotage the agreement.

They failed — but they have not quit.

Days after reports that Iran has dismantled one of the most dangerous parts of its program by removing the core of its heavy-water reactor in Arak and filling it with cement, Republicans in the House of Representatives are mounting a new attempt to kill the agreement that has already made the world much safer.

The “Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act” would prevent the President from lifting sanctions imposed on Iranian individuals and entities unless the Administration can “certify the entity is not a terror financier, human rights abuser or involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”

President Obama has already vowed to veto the bill, should it reach his desk, for the simple reason that it tangles up an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program with other issues that have nothing to do with it. The new bill is simply a poison pill, designed to kill the nuclear deal.

The deal was designed to do one very important thing — make the world safe from the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. It does not aim to tackle Iran’s role in regional conflicts, or its sponsorship of terrorist groups or its domestic human rights abuses.

There are separate sanctions imposed on Iran to confront those issues, all of which will remain in place. And the United States and its partners should remain vigilant and take appropriate action when faced with Iranian provocations — like the ballistic missile test they conducted last October which violated UN Security Council resolutions. But none of these factors have anything to do with the nuclear deal.

If the latest bill passed, the White House warned, the legislation “could result in the collapse of a comprehensive diplomatic arrangement that peacefully and verifiably prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.”

That would lead to the end of international inspections and monitoring of Iranian nuclear facilities and leave Iran free to restart its program. It would “lead to the unraveling of the international sanctions regime against Iran, and deal a devastating blow to America’s credibility as a leader of international diplomacy,” the White House said.

Republicans have the votes to pass this bill in the House. It will be more interesting to see how it fares in the Senate, where prominent Republicans expected to face strong Democratic challengers this year, like Mark Kirk of Illinois and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, have been strong backers of previous efforts to sabotage the agreement.

What opponents don’t get is that the nuclear deal is already proving itself. The Iranians have moved faster than most experts believed would happen to fulfill their part of the agreement. Notably, they shipped 25,000 pounds of low-enriched uranium to Russia, leaving them without enough material for a bomb.

“This step is vital because it is irreversible, since the low-enriched uranium is never coming back and would instead need to be produced again,” said Ilan Goldenberg, who directs the Middle East security program at the Center for a New American Security, writing in The National Interest.

The Iranians have also removed centrifuges as required and allowed intrusive inspections of its facilities, as laid down by the JCPOA. And now they are rendering the Arak plant harmless.

It will soon be time for the United States and its partners to live up to their side of the agreement. Once the designated international authorities confirm that Iran has met its obligations, the international community must begin to lift sanctions originally imposed because of Iran’s nuclear program.

Opponents can be expected to continue their campaign to kill the agreement one way or another. That’s why supporters, and all those who believe in diplomatic solutions to tough international problems, must remain vigilant, ready to take political action whenever needed to preserve this important breakthrough.

January 13, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Iran has removed the core of its Arak heavy water nuclear reactor

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranIran nuclear deal: heavy water nuclear reactor core filled with cement, SMH, January 12, 2016  Dubai:   Iran has removed the core of its Arak heavy water nuclear reactor and filled it with cement as required under a nuclear deal signed with world powers last year, the semi-official Fars news agency has revealed, citing an informed Iranian source.

Any such move, reducing the plant’s ability to produce plutonium, might signal imminent implementation of the nuclear deal and clear the way for Tehran to receive relief from economic sanctions.

Separately, the European Union’s foreign policy chief said that EU nuclear-related sanctions on Iran could be lifted soon.

 “I can tell you that my expectation is that this day could come rather soon. The implementation of the agreements is proceeding well,” Federica Mogherini said during a visit to Prague.

The fate of the reactor in central Iran was one of the toughest sticking points in the long nuclear negotiations that led to an agreement in July between Iran and six world powers, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Under the deal’s terms, Iran accepted that the Arak reactor would be reconfigured so it could not yield fissile plutonium usable in a nuclear bomb.

China, the United States, France, Britain, Russia and Germany have agreed to participate in the redesign and the construction of the modernised reactor…….

January 13, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran has complied with its obligations to get rid of enriched uranium – John Kerry

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranIran nuclear deal: Tehran on track, says John Kerry  28 December 2015

The US says Iran has taken a “significant step” towards meeting its nuclear commitments, by sending a large quantity of uranium abroad. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke after Iran dispatched a shipment of more than 11 tonnes of low-enriched uranium to Russia.

Iran signed a deal in July with six international powers. It is designed to demonstrate that Iran is not on the threshold of being able to make an atomic bomb.

Under the deal, Iran agreed to reduce its holdings of low-enriched uranium; sharply reduce its quantity of centrifuges – used to enrich uranium – and cut its output of plutonium by re-engineering a power plant.

Mr Kerry said Monday’s shipment of low-enriched uranium to Russia had tripled the amount of time it would take to produce enough fuel for a bomb – from two or three months to nine months. “I am pleased to report that we have seen important indications of significant progress towards Iran completing its key nuclear commitments under the deal,” Mr Kerry said.

Under July’s agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency will decide when Tehran has complied with its obligations.

After this, the US and other world powers will begin to dismantle their programme of economic sanctions against Iran.

Grey line

Key areas of the nuclear deal:

Uranium enrichment: Iran can operate 5,060 first generation centrifuges, configured to enrich uranium to 3.67%, a level well below that needed to make an atomic weapon. It can also operate up to 1,000 centrifuges at its mountain facility at Fordow – but these cannot be used to enrich uranium.

Plutonium production: Iran has agreed to reconfigure its heavy water reactor at Arak, so that it will only produce a tiny amount of plutonium as a by-product of power generation, and will not build any more heavy water reactors for 15 years.

Inspections: International monitors will be able to carry out a comprehensive programme of inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Sanctions: All EU and US energy, economic and financial sanctions, and most UN sanctions, will be lifted on the day Iran shows it has complied with the main parts of the deal.

December 30, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

All of Iran’s enriched uranium removed with Russian assistance

That’s It: All Enriched Uranium Removed From Iran Under Russian Assistance MOSCOW (Sputnik) – All of the enriched uranium in Iran under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, accepted on July 14 in Vienna on Iran’s nuclear energy program, has been removed under Russia’s assistance, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.

“Under Russia’s assistance, all of the enriched uranium falling into the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action has been removed from Iran,” the ministry said in a statement.

The shipment comprised Iran’s nuclear material enriched to 20 percent not already in the form of fabricated fuel plates for the Tehran Research Reactor.

On July 14, Iran and the P5+1 group of mediators — Russia, the United States, China, France and the United Kingdom plus Germany — reached an agreement on maintaining a peaceful nature of Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that Russia played a vital role in arranging for Tehran’s low-enriched uranium being shipped out of Iran under the P5+1 nuclear deal

December 30, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international, Uranium | Leave a comment

IAEA concludes its probe in Iran’s history of nuclear weapons research

Global nuclear watchdog IAEA ends Iran ‘weapons’ probe , BBC News, 16 Dec 15 The global nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, has ended its 12-year investigation into concerns that Iran might be developing nuclear weapons.The move is seen as a key step towards lifting UN, EU and US sanctions.

The IAEA concluded that Iran conducted nuclear weapons-related research until 2003 and to a lesser extent until 2009, but found no evidence of this since.

The lifting of sanctions, agreed in a July deal with world powers, hinged on the IAEA’s findings on the issue.

Iran has strongly denied pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons programme.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif welcomed Tuesday’s announcement by the Vienna-based IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), saying it showed the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme.

“This resolution goes far beyond closing the issue of so-called PMD (Possible Military Dimension) and cancels the 12 previous resolutions of the council of governors of the IAEA which seriously restricted our country’s nuclear programme,” Mr Zarif was quoted as saying by Iranian media.

The BBC’s Bethany Bell in Vienna says sanctions against Iran could be lifted as early as the middle of January……………..

Key areas of the nuclear deal:

Uranium enrichment: Iran can operate 5,060 first generation centrifuges, configured to enrich uranium to 3.67%, a level well below that needed to make an atomic weapon. It can also operate up to 1,000 centrifuges at its mountain facility at Fordow – but these cannot be used to enrich uranium.

Plutonium production: Iran has agreed to reconfigure its heavy water reactor at Arak, so that it will only produce a tiny amount of plutonium as a by-product of power generation, and will not build any more heavy water reactors for 15 years.

Inspections: International monitors will be able to carry out a comprehensive programme of inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Sanctions: All EU and US energy, economic and financial sanctions, and most UN sanctions, will be lifted on the day Iran shows it has complied with the main parts of the deal.

December 16, 2015 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment


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