Iran is to receive a huge shipment of natural uranium from Russia to compensate it for exporting tons of reactor coolant, diplomats say, in a move approved by the outgoing U.S. administration and other governments seeking to keep Tehran committed to a landmark nuclear pact.That last sentence is far more meaningful than it appears.
Two senior diplomats said the transfer recently agreed by the U.S. and five other world powers that negotiated the nuclear deal with Iran foresees delivery of 116 metric tons (nearly 130 tons) of natural uranium. U.N. Security Council approval is needed but a formality, considering five of those powers are permanent Security Council members, they said.
Uranium can be enriched to levels ranging from reactor fuel or medical and research purposes to the core of an atomic bomb. Iran says it has no interest in such weapons and its activities are being closely monitored under the nuclear pact to make sure they remain peaceful.
Despite present restrictions on its enrichment program, the amount of natural uranium is significant should Iran decide to keep it in storage, considering its potential uses once some limits on Tehran's nuclear activities start to expire in less than a decade.
David Albright, whose Institute of Science and International Security often briefs U.S. lawmakers on Iran's nuclear program, says the shipment could be enriched to enough weapons-grade uranium for more than 10 simple nuclear bombs, "depending on the efficiency of the enrichment process and the design of the nuclear weapon."
The swap is in compensation for the 70 metric tons (77 tons) of heavy water exported by Iran to the United States, Russia and Oman since the nuclear agreement went into effect.
Iran violated the JCPOA by creating more heavy water than allowed. So the P5+1 offered to pay Iran for the heavy water - rewarding Iran for violating the agreement.
This happened in February and again in November. Iran can now violate the agreement and know that it will be rewarded - in order to maintain the agreement that it is violating.
This is the logic, folks: