Iran plans on shipping heavy water abroad amid nuclear unease

Iranian employees pose for a picture at the newly opened heavy water plant in Arak, 320 kms south of Tehran, 26 August 2006. (File photo: AFP)

Iran will ship about 11 metric tons (12.12 tons) of heavy water out of the country in the next couple of days, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, citing sources familiar with the plans.

News of Iran shipping heavy water - a material used as a moderator in nuclear reactors - will diffuse tensions between Iran and Western powers, especially the US.

Iran’s nuclear deal between Tehran and the six major powers limits Iran’s stock of heavy wear. In contrast to strict limits elsewhere in the deal on materials including enriched uranium, the text says Iran should not have more heavy water than it needs, adding that those needs are estimated to be 130 metric tons. Western countries see it as a hard limit, and Iran argues it is not.

The sources also said Iran has already sent 11 metric tons of heavy water to one of its ports as per the deal with the IAEA, the United Nations atomic agency which is overseeing implementation of the nuclear deal.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said earlier on Thursday that Iran must “maintain international confidence” by keeping below the threshold laid out in the agreement.

Amano also expressed concerns that Iran had for the second time exceeded the 130-metric-ton threshold for its heavy-water stockpile.

After shipping the material most likely through Oman to the international market, Iran’s stockpile of heavy water will fall to about 120 metric tons, keeping it under the agreed threshold for some months, one of the officials told WSJ.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:49 - GMT 06:49