Under the P5+1 nuclear deal, Iran needed to drastically reduce its stockpile of low-enriched uranium from the existing levels at the time. They have managed to do so today, shipping away 25,000 lbs of uranium, the bulk of their stockpile, on a container ship bound for Russia.
The shipment brings Iran even closer to meeting all of its obligations under the deal, something which the US hadn’t anticipated being done until spring but which Iran is hoping to have done in time for sanctions relief to begin before February’s elections.
The deal with Russia saw Russia sending Iran a shipment of unenriched uranium, which doesn’t count toward the stockpile limit, in exchange for the low-enriched shipment. This will allow Iran to continue running its few remaining centrifuges without rising back above the cap, as they consume uranium in their Bushehr Power Plant.
Though some US officials have expressed annoyance with the quick compliance by Iran, and suggested the US should still hold off on fulfilling its end of the deal, Secretary of State John Kerry today appeared to cheer the move, saying the deal is “on track.”
Ultimately, once the IAEA declares Iran officially in compliance with all terms of the deal, the US will have no legal recourse but to ease sanctions. The IAEA has said they expect to do so in January.
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