Iran Wants to Import Tons of Uranium. Opponents of the Nuclear Deal Want the Trump Administration to
The Trump administration is facing pressure to definitively rule out a longstanding request by Iran to import 950 tons of natural uranium, according to government sources and proliferation experts who spoke to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. Tehran has signaled it will petition again for the yellowcake next week at a quarterly meeting in Vienna regarding implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The Obama administration reportedly approved the Iranian request in its final weeks, but it was ultimately blocked by the United Kingdom. Iran has indicated of late that it will revive the request, setting up a key test for the Trump administration, which has placed the nuclear deal under a comprehensive review.
Trump officials suggested to TWS that the administration has not yet decided whether it will overturn the Obama-era decision and prohibit Iran from importing the natural uranium.
"I would certainly hope we would use all our leverage to prevent such a purchase by Iran," one senior White House official said.
The White House's weapons of mass destruction directorate refused to comment to TWS.
"We do not comment on the deliberations of the Joint Commission, as has been agreed to by all participating parties."
The proposal is receiving resistance from Congress, with Florida senator Marco Rubio urging the administration not to approve Iran's request.
"The Iranian regime remains an illegitimate nuclear actor, with international inspectors still unable to conclusively verify the absence of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran," he told TWS. "Vetoing Iran's proposal to buy 950 tons of uranium yellowcake from Kazakhstan should be a no-brainer. Iran does not need this nuclear material, which far exceeds its needs and could someday be further enriched for the purposes of nuclear weapons."
Olli Heinonen, a 27-year veteran of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog and its former deputy director-general, cast doubt on claims that Iran had a legitimate reason to import the material.
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