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Tehran says US elicited interest in buying heavy water from Iran

April 12, 2023 at 5:29 pm

Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi answers the press in the capital Tehran on 17 July 2018 [ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images]

Iran said, Wednesday, the United States once elicited interest in purchasing heavy water from Tehran for its “high quality”, Anadolu News Agency reports.

“We should know that the heavy water produced in Iran is among the best in the world and even the Americans were once trying to purchase it after they analysed its properties,” Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), said in statements cited by the state news agency, IRNA.

The spokesman said that US officials have, on many occasions, referred to the “high quality” of heavy water produced in Iran, which he noted is used to “produce medicine and improve agricultural production”.

Kamalvandi, who also serves as the AEOI Deputy Chief, said Iran is no longer in need of importing heavy water, and exports have also surged in recent years.

Iran continues to be at loggerheads with the West over its nuclear program amid a stalemate in talks to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal that put limits on Iran’s nuclear enrichment activities.

The talks, under way in the Austrian capital since April 2021, remain stalled since last August, amid key disagreements between the two main stakeholders – Tehran and Washington.

Under the landmark 2015 agreement, Iran agreed to enrich uranium only up to 3.67 per cent purity in exchange for the removal of sanctions. The former US administration walked out of the deal in 2018.

Iran’s nuclear enrichment has now reached up to 60 per cent purity, well below the 90 per cent purity required for a standard nuclear weapon, but Western countries have expressed concerns lately.

The 2015 deal permitted Iran to keep up to 130 tons of heavy water at the time.

In April 2016, after the deal was signed, reports cited US officials as saying that Washington intends to buy 32 metric tons of heavy water from Iran worth $8.6 million.

Two months later, the House of Representatives passed legislation to block the purchase of heavy water from Iran, defying then-President Barack Obama’s veto threat.

In November 2019, the UN nuclear watchdog claimed that Iran’s stock of heavy water for reactors had crossed the limit set under its 2015 agreement with world powers, reaching 131.5 tons.

Iran is believed to be exporting heavy water, also known as deuterium, to a number of countries.

READ: US considering partial nuclear deal with Iran, Washington tells Israel