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CTBTO Nuclear Monitoring System for Iran Okayed
CTBTO Nuclear Monitoring System for Iran Okayed

CTBTO Nuclear Monitoring System for Iran Okayed

CTBTO Nuclear Monitoring System for Iran Okayed

The administration of US President Donald Trump is allowing high-tech US exports to Iran that could boost international oversight of the 2015 nuclear deal.

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan has signed a waiver that allows a Maryland-based company to export broadband networks, satellite dishes, and wireless equipment to Iran for stations that monitor nuclear explosions in real time, Al-Monitor reported on Thursday.

Under laws that came into force after the1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, the United States restricts "dual-use" exports that could be used in a nuclear weapons program.

Iran says its nuclear program has no military dimensions and is only for peaceful purposes.

The State Department notified the US Congress of the move Jan. 5, according to correspondence viewed by Al-Monitor. It is not the first time the US has allowed exports of digital technology to Iran. In 2010, the State Department also granted a waiver to allow US companies to export chat, email, and social networking software to Iran, an effort to promote communications.

The monitoring equipment was requested by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), which oversees a global ban on nuclear test explosions.

Though the US and Iran are among the nations that have not ratified the 1997 treaty, organization officials have nevertheless set up three sites in Iran to transmit explosion data back to Vienna, giving US and other policymakers a live, independent channel to watch the Islamic Republic's nuclear activity.

"It's like an earthquake detection system—it's going to detect a very large detonation," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

Hughes Network Systems, the Maryland-based company contracted in October to put in place a communications backbone behind the verification sites, is tasked with transmitting explosion data between Iran and the US. The CTBTO has certified a seismic station for use in Tehran and two more in Kerman and Shushtar, with three more sites on the way.

The waiver to provide the equipment comes as Trump faces a May 12 deadline to decide whether to stay in the 2015 nuclear agreement. In January, he extended a waiver on sanctions against Iran to keep the US in the nuclear deal but warned congress and European allies that it would be the last postponement he would grant without Europe making "radical" changes to the pact.

 

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