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Iran to ship nine tons of uranium to Russia

Iranian nuclear officials also said they have made progress on removing the core at the heavy-water reactor at the Arak nuclear facility.

By Stephen Feller
Iran to ship nine tons of uranium to Russia
Iran is working to comply with requirements of the nuclear deal it made with the United Nations to have crippling economic sanctions against the country lifted. Photo by msgrafixx/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- Iran plans to ship nine tons of enriched uranium to Russia "within days" as it seeks to speed the removal of economic sanctions, the head of its nuclear program said on Saturday.

The reduction of Iran's stockpile of nuclear material is a key part of the agreement the country made in July to end its program to develop nuclear weapons.

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While Iran is beginning to take steps toward dialing down its nuclear program, the country already has been accused by the United Nations of violating the deal after a missile test and procurement of titanium alloy.

Two important parts of the deal -- swapping out enriched uranium for natural uranium, and reconstructing the Arak Heavy Water Complex, where Iran was reportedly developing nuclear weapons -- are both moving along as expected, said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

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'The fuel exchange is going on well -- Iran has imported 137 tons of yellow cake from Russia and will export around 9 tons of its enriched uranium to Russia in the next few days," Salehi told the Islamic Republic News Agency. 'We will sell the Russians 9 tons of enriched uranium, and we will be paid for enrichment services through receiving raw material and import 140 tons of natural uranium which is a large amount."

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Exporting the nuclear material, as well as dismantling the core of the heavy-water reactor at the Arak nuclear facility, are key steps of dismantling the nuclear program, which Iran agreed to do in exchange for the removal of international sanctions that have crippled the country economically.

Although a U.N. security council panel agreed the missile test and acquisition of Grade 5 titanium alloy bars were violations of the resolution, the panel had not yet agreed on whether the violations were "willful" and whether a punishment would be levied.

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