American and Iranian officials confirmed Monday that the Obama administration undertook an $8.6 million purchase of nuclear materials from Iran, the Washington Free Beacon reported. The taxpayer-funded deal sought to prevent Iran from violating the nuclear deal it reached with world powers last summer.
“I can confirm reports that the DOE Isotope Program has completed the acquisition of 32 metric tons of heavy water from Iran,” an Energy Department spokesperson told the Free Beacon, echoing a televised announcement by top Iranian diplomat Abbas Araghchi. “The heavy water deal was really concluded in April and it just took a few months to make all the necessary arrangements you would expect from such a deal,” the spokesperson added.
Heavy water can be used in certain reactors to breed plutonium from natural uranium. The nuclear deal limits Iran to 130 metric tons of heavy water, and allows Iran to sell it to other countries under certain conditions. But after Iran created more heavy water than it anticipated, it transferred 50 metric tons of the material to Oman in anticipation of selling some of it to the United States — a maneuver allowing Iran to maintain its compliance with the deal by limiting the heavy water in the country. But the transfer of heavy water to a third country without a sale is not specifically approved by the nuclear deal.
Back in April, an Energy Department spokesperson told the Free Beacon that they “cannot discuss details of the payment until after the purchase is complete.”
The newly revealed timeline for the deal is reportedly raising concerns in Capitol Hill. Lawmakers have already voiced opposition to doing nuclear-related business with Iran, and have criticized the Obama administration for failing to provide them with specific details on the sale.
“The confirmation of this late April date is likely to anger lawmakers who were denied details of the deal because the Energy Department told them several months ago that key details surrounding the deal had not yet been firmed up,” one legislative adviser told the Free Beacon.
“The Obama administration’s deal with the Mullahs in Tehran to purchase heavy water demonstrates a disturbing, potentially illegal, willingness of the administration to subsidize Iran’s nuclear program,” said Rep. Mike Pompeo (R – Kan.). “This purchase allows the Iranians to offload previously unsellable product and it destigmatizes the act of doing business in Iran.”
Analysts from the Institute for Science and International Security warned in May that the U.S. decision to purchase 32 metric tons of Iran’s excess nuclear runoff sets a bad precedent by allowing the Islamic Republic to circumvent the restrictions mandated by last year’s nuclear deal. They added that legitimizing Iran as a supplier of nuclear materials could both undermine American allies like Canada who normally fulfill that role, and portray Iran as a “responsible nuclear supplier” while it engages in “illicit commodity trading activities throughout the world.”
The confirmation of the heavy water purchase comes shortly after the publication of federal and state-level German intelligence reports, which detail Iran’s increasing efforts to procure key nuclear materials in that country.
A report by the state of Baden-Württemberg revealed that Iran is trying to acquire components necessary to manufacture nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons from Western firms. “In addition to vacuum technology, there is special interest in machine tools, high-speed cameras, and climate test control chambers,” the state report said.
Germany’s federal intelligence agency, the BfV, warned that Iran is engaging in “illegal proliferation-sensitive procurement activities in Germany … at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told lawmakers Thursday that BfV’s intelligence shows that “Iran continued unabated to develop its rocket program in conflict with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council.”
The Obama administration declined to comment on BfV’s report, telling the Free Beacon “that it continues to view Iran as complying with the nuclear accord.”
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