to lift sanctions, Iran to ship enriched uranium to Russia within days
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[December 19, 2015]
By Sam Wilkin
DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran will export most of
its enriched uranium to Russia in the coming days as it rushes to
implement a nuclear deal and secure relief from international sanctions,
Tehran's nuclear chief was quoted as saying on Saturday.
Drastically reducing its stock of enriched uranium, which can be
used in nuclear weapons, was at the heart of the deal Iran reached
in July with a group of six world powers.
Under its terms, Iran must cut its stockpile to around 300 kg (660
lb) and mothball most of the centrifuges that produce the enriched
fuel. It must also remove the core of a heavy water reactor at Arak
so it cannot be used to produce plutonium, another potential
Once the United Nations verifies those steps, international
sanctions will be lifted, giving Iran access to global markets for
the first time in years and opening a lifeline for its ailing
"In the next few days around nine tonnes of Iran's enriched uranium
will be exported to Russia," nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi was
quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA. That is roughly the
amount that Iran must export to bring its stock down to the required
He said the enriched uranium would be taken out of Iran on board a
Russian ship. Iran has already received a shipment of yellowcake, an
unenriched uranium compound, from Russia in exchange for the
President Hassan Rouhani's government is aiming to get sanctions
lifted by the end of January, to boost pro-government candidates in
Feb. 26 elections to parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the
clerical body that chooses the Supreme Leader.
Iran is set to reap an economic windfall once sanctions are lifted.
The government has pledged to quickly boost oil production, and
foreign companies are jockeying to enter the market of some 80
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Nevertheless, the economy has stagnated since the deal was reached,
as consumers hold off on spending until the market opens up.
With no concrete improvement to voters' quality of life, the
government risks losing its 'nuclear dividend' if sanctions have not
been lifted before the elections; hardliners opposed to the deal
would stand to gain.
On Wednesday, Tehran's envoy to the United Nations' International
Atomic Energy Agency said Iran was working to complete the
requirements in the next two to three weeks, after the U.N. watchdog
closed its investigation of Iran's past nuclear activities.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, responsible for verifying that Tehran has
taken the necessary steps, said in an interview that it is "not
impossible" that sanctions could be lifted in January.
(Reporting by Sam Wilkin; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)
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