Barack Obama’s administration, with the help of the rest of the P5+1 signatories of the Iran deal, has gifted Iran with enough uranium to make 10 simple nuclear bombs, a nuclear arms expert said Monday.
The transfer of 116 metric tons of uranium will come from Russia as a “thank you” in exchange for Iran’s export of tons of reactor coolant, the Associated Press reported in an exclusive.
David Albright, whose Institute of Science and International Security often briefs U.S. lawmakers on Iran’s nuclear program, says the shipment could be enriched to enough weapons-grade uranium for more than 10 simple nuclear bombs, “depending on the efficiency of the enrichment process and the design of the nuclear weapon.”
The shipment is the first since the Iran deal was implemented in July 2015. However, it is by no means the only time Iran was gifted with uranium that could possibly be used to build a nuclear weapon once the terms of the Iran deal begin to expire in less than a decade. In 2015, Iran received another shipment as part of the negotiations leading up to the nuclear deal in exchange for enriched uranium it sent to Russia. They are prohibited from storing more than about 660 pounds of low-enriched uranium under the terms of the Iran deal. Conventional wisdom holds this is not enough to produce a weapon.
The AP reported Monday that Iran has not said what purpose they have in mind for the uranium they’ve just received:
Uranium can be enriched to levels ranging from reactor fuel or medical and research purposes to the core of an atomic bomb. Iran says it has no interest in such weapons and its activities are being closely monitored under the nuclear pact to make sure they remain peaceful…
…Tehran has not said what it would do with the uranium but could choose to store it or turn it into low-enriched uranium and then export it for use as reactor fuel.
Without confirming the reported agreement, U.S. officials argued that such shipments would neither endanger nor violate the Iran nuclear deal.
Two U.S. diplomats, speaking anonymously, revealed the exchange before a meeting in Vienna to discuss Iranian charges that the U.S. was reneging on sanctions relief mandates included in the Iran deal.
State Department spokesman John Kirby said there is no ban on imports of this kind to Iran, and reiterated that uranium “cannot be used … for a weapon” in its original form, the AP reported.
In December, it was revealed that Iran received more than $10 billon in cash and gold in sanctions relief that critics worried may be used to fund terror groups and activities. The Obama administration denied having a role in that exchange.