Murphy says this this is the second time the 130 metric tonne threshold for heavy water has been surpassed since the nuclear deal was put in place last January. Heavy water is a material used in reactors, like the unfinished one at Arak, in Iran. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) watchdog said that it had 130.1 tonnes of the material on Tuesday.
The first time Iran went over the mark, last February, when it exceeded the limit, with 130.9 tonnes, passed without major criticism from the U.S. and other countries who signed the nuclear deal, but there are questions as to how the incoming Trump administration will react to such incidents.
In a confidential report seen by Reuters, the IAEA said, “On November 2, 2016, the director general expressed concerns related to Iran’s stock of heavy water to the vice president of Iran and president of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, … Ali Akbar Salehi.”
Iran’s nuclear activities is being policed by the IAEA, under the deal it signed with the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, which also lifted international sanctions against Tehran. As agreed to in the deal, Iran told the agency it would prepare to transfer 5 tonnes of heavy water out of the country, and a senior diplomat said Iran planned to carry out the shipment in the coming days.
Mark Toner, U.S. State Department spokesman, confirmed Iran’s intention to export the excess heavy water, when he spoke at a regular news briefing in Washington. “It’s important to note that Iran made no effort to hide this, hide what it was doing from the IAEA,” Toner said.
A strict limit was not set on heavy water as was set for enriched uranium. The deal estimated that Iran’s needs to be 130 tonnes and states that any amount beyond the country’s needs “will be made available for export to the international market”.
President-elect Trump has called the agreement, which some view as one of President Barack Obama’s top achievements, “the worst deal ever negotiated” and said he would “police that contract so tough they (the Iranians) don’t have a chance”.