No JCPOA Ban on Nuclear Waste Storage

No JCPOA Ban on Nuclear Waste Storage
No JCPOA Ban on Nuclear Waste Storage

A lawmaker said the 2015 nuclear deal with major powers has not banned Iran from possessing nuclear waste, produced in the process of enriching uranium, in addition to the 300 kilogram of low-enriched uranium it is allowed to keep.

"There is no ban on storing the waste … from the uranium enrichment [process]," Mojtaba Zolnouri also told ICANA on Friday. "No part of the JCPOA has mentioned anything about possessing nuclear waste, so Iran is allowed to have such materials … which are of insignificant fissile purity levels."

In an unusual move last week, Iran and six world powers released previously restricted documents about their nuclear deal to enforce their view that Tehran is not circumventing limits on its limit of enriched uranium, which could be used to make nuclear weapons, AP reported.

Iran has always denied western allegations that it may have sought to develop a nuclear bomb, insisting its nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes only. The documents, some of which are dated Jan. 6, 2016, shortly before the pact was implemented, were posted on the public website of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The IAEA is monitoring the landmark deal, which Iran reached with the six powers, namely the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, to get relief from international sanctions in return for temporary curbs on its nuclear program. The agreement stipulates that Iran can possess only low-enriched uranium and it is limited to possessing no more than 300 kilograms at any time.

That is far less than would be needed to make a nuclear weapon even if it were further enriched to weapons-grade levels used for the core of nuclear warheads.

When the nuclear deal was agreed on, Iran had more than 100 kilograms of liquid or solid waste containing low-enriched uranium as part of its enrichment activities.

Some of the material remains and the published documents declare the low-enriched uranium it contains as "unrecoverable" and thereby not part of the 300-kilogram limit. A letter on behalf of the European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, authorizing publication of the documents was also posted on the IAEA website.

It did not specify why they were made public nearly a year after they were agreed on by the nations negotiating the deal.

But it comes at a time when the incoming US administration has served notice it might seek to pull out of the agreement. Two officials from one of the countries that negotiated the accord with Iran suggested it was meant to show unity among JCPOA participants in the face of intensified criticism of the deal from US lawmakers.  

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