Iran Needs to Diversify Int'l Nuclear Cooperation

Heshmatollah FalahatpishehHeshmatollah Falahatpisheh

A lawmaker said Iran should diversify its partners for nuclear collaboration and not become too dependent on its northern neighbor, Russia.

He was pointing to a recent contract to sell Russia heavy water and an agreement with the country to build nuclear plants in Iran.  

"Today, we are a de facto member of the world's nuclear fold, so we should seek to diversify our nuclear trade and cooperation," Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, told ICANA on Friday.

Last week, Behrouz Kamalvandi, the spokesperson for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said a deal to sell Russia 39 tons of heave water has been finalized.

The sale of heavy water is to reduce Tehran's supplies to levels specified in the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers, which went into force in January to trigger the removal of sanctions in return for temporary curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

Under the pact, Iran must keep its stock of heavy water below 130 tons.

In recent months, Iran also sold a 32-ton cargo of its excess heavy water supplies to the US, under a contract worth nearly $10 million.

The sale faced strong criticism of the Republican members of the US House of Representatives who later passed a bill to bar the US from purchasing Iran's heavy water, which needs the US Senate's approval and President Barack Obama's endorsement before becoming a law.

***No Hurry

Falahatpisheh said it is difficult to make another heavy water deal with the US, "in view of the fact that there is no trust for them [in Iran]", but Iranian nuclear officials "don't have to be in a hurry to sell heavy water" and should try to make a "firm contract" with better terms compared with the previous one on the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on Wednesday Iran and Russia will cooperate to build two new nuclear power stations near the Bushehr plant, in a $10 billion project that will start in the coming days and take 10 years for completion.

"Signing all nuclear agreements with Russia is not professional, especially since Russians completed the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant with an 11-year delay," he said.

Back in 1995, Russian contractors took over the construction of the Bushehr plant from the Germans. The plant officially went on stream in September 2011 and reportedly reached full capacity in mid-2014.