Tehran Treads Warily in Heavy Water Deal With US

Tehran Treads Warily in Heavy Water Deal With USTehran Treads Warily in Heavy Water Deal With US

The nuclear chief said Iran has grown more cautious in selling its heavy water to the United States after its Supreme Court ruled that $2 billion of Iran's locked funds abroad must be confiscated on terrorism allegations.

Last month, the court ordered the money to be turned over to families of the US soldiers killed in terrorist attacks allegedly linked to Iran.

It found that the US Congress did not usurp authority of American courts by passing a 2012 law stating that Iran's frozen funds should help satisfy a $2.65 billion judgment won in federal court in 2007 by the families in question.

Days before the court's decision, it was announced that Iran has finalized a deal with US companies to sell 32 tons of its heavy water.

Heavy water is a component of producing nuclear energy, which is not radioactive.

Under last year's landmark nuclear deal between Iran, the US and five other world powers, Tehran is responsible for reducing its stock of heavy water, which it can sell, dilute or dispose of, under certain conditions.

Iran is permitted to keep up to 130 tons of heavy water at present and up to 90 tons once its redesigned and rebuilt Arak nuclear research reactor is commissioned.

"The heavy water was supposed to have been shipped to the US by now," head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Tuesday.

"But after the $2 billion case, we become more wary. We are now in negotiations on the payment mechanism and other issues to obtain the required assurances," he was quoted as saying by Fars News Agency.

  Talks With Russia

Salehi added that talks are ongoing with Russia to sell it about 40 tons of heavy water.

Iran, which is still under US sanctions, has long had to go through third-country financial institutions for authorized transactions for items, including medicine and food. A US Treasury Department official has said the heavy water accord will be completed under the same method.

The Hill reported that Senate Democrats blocked consideration of an energy and water spending bill on Monday for the third time because of a proposed Republican amendment that would have prohibited the White House from purchasing Iran's heavy water supplies. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has now called for a straight vote on the amendment, which has been authored by Senator Tom Cotton and another vote on the spending bill this week.

McConnell encouraged Democrats on Monday to vote for the underlying spending bill and allow the appropriations process to move forward.

"The bill before us will support energy innovation and waterways infrastructure," he said. "It will promote commerce and public safety. It will help maintain our nuclear deterrence posture. These are priorities that would be important to all of us so let's continue to work today and move this bill forward."

Democrats, though, have objected, saying the measure would earn a veto from the Obama administration.