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Russia ready to export Iran’s surplus enriched uranium if US rejoined JCPOA: Deputy FM

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (Photo by AFP)

A senior Russian Foreign Ministry official says Moscow is ready to export Iran's enriched uranium produced above the limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal should the United States return to the historic accord.

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov made the remarks to the country’s Ria Novosti news agency, according to a Wednesday tweet by Russia’s permanent mission to the international organizations in Vienna.

“We don’t exclude that Russia will be ready to export excess enriched uranium from Iran, should the US return to the Nuclear Deal,” Ryabkov said.

🇷🇺DFM S.#Ryabkov to @rianru on #JCPOA:💬 We don’t exclude that #Russia will be ready to export excess enriched uranium from #Iran, should the #US return to the #NuclearDeal. However, it’s way too premature to speak about it at the moment.

— Russian Mission Vienna (@mission_rf) January 27, 2021

Under the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran is allowed to keep 300 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 3.67-percent purity. The deal requires Tehran to sell off any enriched uranium above the limit on international markets in return for natural uranium.

The administration of former US President Donald Trump, however, left the JCPOA in 2018 in breach of the deal’s multilateral nature and the fact that the accord has been ratified by the United Nations Security Council in the form of one of its resolutions. Washington also returned the economic sanctions that the deal had lifted.

Iran began a number of nuclear countermeasures a year after the US’s withdrawal to prompt Washington to resume its JCPOA obligations and its Western allies in the deal -- the UK, France, and Germany -- to stop abiding by the American sanctions and renew their trade activities with Iran.

In July that year, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the country had increased its low-enriched uranium stockpile to over 300 kilograms.

The most recent bout of Iran’s countermeasures came after the Iranian Parliament passed a law, ordering the country’s administration to resume uranium enrichment at the 20-percent purity level.

Under the law, Iran will also stop abiding by the Additional Protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which enables more intrusive inspections of the country’s nuclear facilities, as of February 21.

Ryabkov likewise said, “it’s way too premature to speak about it at the moment,” referring to the likelihood of America’s return to the JCPOA and Russia’s exporting of the Iranian uranium.

Trump’s successor Joe Biden has only voiced an inclination to bring the US back into the deal.

Visiting Moscow on Tuesday, Zarif said Iran would take proper action whenever the United States lifted the sanctions to pave the way for its return to the nuclear deal, stressing that the Islamic Republic takes Washington’s actions, not words, as its yardstick.

“What we have heard from the new United States administration [so far] has mostly been in the form of words and announcement of its positions,” he said at a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“However, it is actions that we [choose to] respond to,” Zarif added.

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