Iran boosts uranium stock amid rising US tensions

Iran boosts uranium stock amid rising US tensions
2 min read
06 February, 2017
Iran received its last batch of uranium from Russia on Monday, the atomic chief said, as part of the historic nuclear deal made by global powers in 2015.
The delivery was part of a nuclear deal signed in 2015 [Getty]
Iran will receive the final part of a 149-tonne shipment of uranium from Russia as part of its nuclear deal with world powers, it was announced on Monday.

"The first shipment arrived on January 26 by plane and the last will arrive tomorrow, Tuesday," said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, according to Fars news agency.

With the latest shipment, which was authorised by the United States and the other five signatories to the deal, Salehi said Iran has imported 359 tonnes of concentrated uranium, also known as yellow cake, since the nuclear deal came into effect in January 2016.

Under the deal, Iran has the right to enrich uranium to a level of 3.5 percent and sell it abroad, as part of efforts to develop its civilian nuclear programme such as power generation.

Nuclear weapons require uranium enriched to around 80 percent.

The deal also stipulates the Islamic Republic is allowed to run around 5,000 "IR-1" centrifuges and has been testing more advanced models that can produce greater quantities of enriched uranium - all under the strict supervision of the UN atomic agency.

Last month, Iranian officials said they had successfully tested the latest-generation IR-8 centrifuge, which has a capacity 20 times the IR-1, with uranium gas.

Tensions brewing

The final delivery comes as tensions continue to rise between Iran and the newly-inaugurated Trump administration - which has been vocally and repetitively opposed to the deal – and has made no qualms in taking action against the Islamic Republic since taking office on 20 January.

US President Donald Trump imposed new sanctions on Iran on Friday over its test launch of a medium-range ballistic missile and its alleged support for Yemeni rebels, who recently targeted a Saudi Arabian warship.

Tensions continued to rise hours later when US Defence Secretary James Mattis said that Iran was "the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world" before ensuring that Washington had no intentions to increase troop numbers in the Middle East in response.

But as concerns brewed, an official confirmed the new sanctions do not yet mean that the US has abandoned commitments it made to lift measures aimed at Iran's nuclear programme, despite Trump's public contempt for the accord.

In March, Trump told American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that his "number 1 priority is to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran," prompting former President Barack Obama to issue a warning before leaving office to preserve progress made with Iran.