Russia: Iran Uranium Swap Under Consideration

Russia: Iran Uranium Swap Under Consideration Russia: Iran Uranium Swap Under Consideration

The Russian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency said Moscow and Tehran are exploring various aspects of a project under which Iran would export low-enriched uranium to Russia in exchange for natural uranium.    

"This is still an open issue," Grigory Berdennikov was quoted by Sputnik as telling RIA Novosti on Friday.

"This is a complex and rather difficult project. We hope that we will be able to reach mutually acceptable solutions to all issues," he said. "We are now working on technical details."

Last month, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry Second Asia Department, Zamir Kabulov, said that Russian and Iranian experts were preparing for a deal to export Iran's enriched uranium to Russia, adding that the talks on the issue were in progress.

As part of temporary constraints Iran accepted on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief under the July 14 deal with Russia and five other major powers (the United States, France, Britain, Germany and China), it agreed to either sell or convert to non-enriched form any amount of enriched uranium in its possession in excess of 300 kg or 3.67% purity level.

Berdennikov also said the IAEA is closely working with Iranian experts on issues regarding the Parchin military complex.

The UN agency has recently reported that construction work is underway at the Parchin site that may undermine the job of the agency to verify claims that Iran may have conducted research there that could be relevant for any effort to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies its nuclear work may have any military objectives. Sanctions relief hinges on the agency's reports on Tehran's past and present nuclear activities.  

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said the activities at Parchin are related to road construction and are non-nuclear in nature. Alongside the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the nuclear deal is officially referred to, Iran signed the Roadmap for Clarification of Past and Present Outstanding Issues with the UN nuclear agency.

  Amano  Under Pressure

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano is expected to submit a final assessment report on the issue to the agency's board of governors by the year end.

Amano has faced pressure from American opponents of the JCPOA to disclose the confidential aspects of the roadmap, which they termed the "secret side deals."

The IAEA chief has rejected the demand saying such confidential arrangements are in line with his agency's standard procedure and by divulging them he would risk damaging the IAEA's credibility. Berdennikov said he was unaware of any side deals between Iran and the UN watchdog and criticized media leaks of confidential reports prior to their review by the agency's board members.

IAEA officials are arriving in Tehran on Tuesday for meetings to clarify technical questions recently posed by the agency about the data Iran provided on its nuclear past on Aug. 15, Asghar Zarean, deputy director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told IRNA on Saturday.

The UN agency announced in a statement on Wednesday that it sent Tehran questions to clear up ambiguities in the submitted information.

Zarean added, "This round of talks does not involve any move or demand to inspect military sites."