The United Nations’ nuclear agency announced Thursday that for the second time since Iran signed the nuclear deal with global powers last year, it had violated its limits on stockpiling “heavy water,” a component that could be used to make a nuclear weapon.
“It is important that such situations should be avoided in future in order to maintain international confidence in the implementation of the [deal], which represents a clear gain for nuclear verification in Iran,” said Yukiya Amano, the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Amano announced that Iran is working on transferring the excess heavy water to other nations and reducing its heavy water stockpile to 125 tons, five tons less than its agreed-upon 130-ton limit.
When Iran was first found to have violated the heavy water cap in February, the United States agreed to pay $8.6 million to buy 32 tons of the heavy water in order to bring Iran back into compliance with the deal. The purchase was criticized by many nuclear experts, including two analysts from the Institute for Science and International Security, who argued that the purchase made Iran, who they described as an “irresponsible state dedicated to illicit commodity trading activities throughout the world,” appear to be a “responsible nuclear supplier.”
Laura Holgate, the American ambassador to the IAEA, said that “Iran must strictly adhere to all commitments,” and urged Iran to keep its heavy water stockpile significantly below 130 metric tons.
Despite the two violations of Iran’s heavy water limit, President Barack Obama insisted in a press conference earlier this week that skeptics of the deal were wrong. “At the time [the deal was signed], the main argument against it was Iran wouldn’t abide by the deal, that they would cheat. We now have over a year of evidence that they have abided by the agreement,” he said.
In a recent analysis for The Weekly Standard, Lee Smith predicted that Iran would walk away from the deal during the presidency of Donald Trump. Smith argued that a Trump administration would likely not overlook Iranian violations as Obama’s did, nor would it pay or bribe Iran to keep its part of the deal. The main problem, Smith wrote, is “the deal itself….the agreement would likely have collapsed under a Hillary Clinton administration as well.”
[Photo: Nuclear Threat Initiative / YouTube ]