Iran to sell heavy water to United States

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Iran will sell 32 metric tons of heavy water (water containing the hydrogen isotope deuterium) to the United States, a senior Iranian nuclear negotiators has confirmed.

Iran’s heavy water will be bought by the US Department of Energy (DOE) for about $8.6 million, a department spokeswoman said on Friday.

Officials said the heavy water will be stored at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and then resold on the commercial market for research purposes.

Deuterium (hydrogen with an added neutron) is not radioactive but has research and medical applications and can also be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Under last summer’s landmark nuclear deal between Iran, the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia – plus Germany, Tehran must reduce its stock of heavy water by selling, diluting or disposing of it.

Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal means that the heavy water was already removed from Iran, ensuring that it would not be used to support the development of a nuclear weapon, State Department spokesman John Kirby said. “Our purchase of the heavy water means that it will instead be used for critically important research and non-nuclear industrial requirements,” Kirby added.

The US energy department said the heavy water purchase does not go beyond the scope of the nuclear agreement, and stressed that future purchases were not automatic.


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