Iran Will Tread Carefully in Heavy Water Deal With US

Iran Will Tread Carefully in Heavy Water Deal With USIran Will Tread Carefully in Heavy Water Deal With US

Iran has obtained firm assurances that it will be paid in full for the heavy water supplies it plans to sell to the United States, a nuclear official said in an apparent effort to allay the concerns of domestic critics who believe the US cannot be trusted.

A deal has been finalized with US companies to sell 32 tons of heavy water for $8.6 million to reduce Tehran's supplies to levels specified in the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the accord is formally known, went into force in January to trigger the removal of sanctions in return for temporary curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

The curbs include redesigning and rebuilding the Arak heavy water reactor and reducing the stockpile of heavy water by selling, diluting or disposing of the surplus quantities under certain conditions.

Iran is permitted to keep up to 130 tons of heavy water at present and up to 90 tons once the reconfigured reactor is commissioned.

The spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said the shipment and delivery of the heavy water cargo to the United States are pending the receipt of full payment.

"We have got necessary guarantees and are 100% sure of what we have done so far," he said.

Remarks by Behrouz Kamalvandi came after the US Supreme Court ruled last month that over $2 billion in Iran's overseas frozen funds must be turned over to the families of the soldiers killed in attacks that Washington blames on Tehran.

The ruling has drawn sharp criticism from Iranian officials and has reinforced an anti-western conservative agenda.

"Definitely, the cargo will not be delivered until we are assured of easy access to the money," he told state TV in Tehran on Monday.

  Limited Market

There are other potential buyers, as well. Reuters has reported that Russia is considering buying 40 tons of heavy water from Iran.

But Kamalvandi said, "This product has a very limited market and few countries can purchase it. The US dominates 75% of the global market. So we cannot afford to give up the US market."

Referring to attempts in the US Congress to sink the purchase deal, he said, "We should wait and see how this opposition will impact the deal."

Republican lawmakers have slammed the purchase by President Barack Obama's administration, saying the United States should not be "subsidizing" Iran's nuclear program even if it means drawing down the country's heavy water supply. Senator Tom Cotton offered a bill last week to block the US administration from purchasing Iran's heavy water.

"Iran has an obligation to reduce its heavy water stocks," he said. "The United States has no obligation to help them. We certainly have no obligation to buy their heavy water and I don't think the United States taxpayers should subsidize their nuclear program."

Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has said he "had some knowledge that developments were occurring" between the US and Iran, but that he is skeptical of any purchase agreement between the two countries.

"Should the United States government be a known end-user for Iran's heavy water? I don't know, probably not," he said. "I don't think we ought to be the built-in end user of their product."

The White House mostly dismissed those complaints, saying Cotton and other Republicans were simply looking to kick up another legislative fight over Iran.

"Senator Cotton is certainly no expert when it comes to heavy water," White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, said. "I'm confident that he couldn't differentiate heavy water from sparkling water."