Iran in talks with Russia on heavy water sales

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi talks to journalists after meeting senior officials from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, Germany and France in a hotel in Vienna, Austria, October 19, 2015. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

MOSCOW/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran is holding talks with Russia to sell it about 40 tonnes of heavy water from its nuclear program, Iran’s deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

Under last year’s landmark nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Tehran is responsible for reducing its stock of heavy water which is a component of making nuclear weapons and producing nuclear energy.

It is not radioactive and the nuclear deal gives Iran the right to sell, dilute or dispose of it under certain conditions.

Abbas Araqchi, who is also a top nuclear negotiator, was quoted by the Fars agency as saying late on Sunday that the United States had been the first buyer of Iranian heavy water and some other world powers, including Russia, were now showing an interest.

“We are negotiating with Russia to sell 40 tonnes of heavy water,” he said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry later confirmed Moscow was considering the purchase.

In January Iran removed the core of its Arak heavy water nuclear reactor and filled it with cement as required under a nuclear deal. The United States, Russia and China have agreed to participate in the redesign and the construction of a modernized reactor.

Reporting by Jack Stubbs and Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Richard Balmforth and Ed Osmond