November 18, 2016
For the second time, Iran has exceeded one of the caps in the nuclear deal on the amount of nuclear material it can keep on hand.
But the violation was minor and didn‘t arouse any loud objections, even from Republicans in Congress who normally object to anything and everything the Islamic Republic does.
The nuclear deal says Iran may keep on hand no more 130 metric tons of heavy water, a material used as a moderator in reactors like Iran’s unfinished one at Arak.
The quarterly report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) showed Iran had 130.1 tons of the material on Tuesday. Its February report showed Iran had 130.9 tons at that time.
Iran sold part of its stock to the United States and is seeking other buyers in an effort to stay under the limit.
There were no major objections in February and none have been heard in the past week, except for a passing slam from Sen. Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas. But there are questions about whether the incoming Trump Administration will react to such incidents the same way. If Trump really does want to torpedo the agreement, the best way to do so would be to shout that Iran was already violating the agreement.
Iran told the agency it would transfer five tons of heavy water out of the country, as provided for in the deal, and a senior diplomat said Iran planned to carry out the shipment within days.
A US State Department spokesman confirmed Iran’s intention to export the excess heavy water. “It’s important to note that Iran made no effort to hide this … from the IAEA,” he said.