During a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) questioned the Coordinator for Iran Nuclear Implementation, Ambassador Stephen Mull, over where the enriched uranium that was to be removed from Iran has gone.
After Rep. Smith initially asked where the uranium was, Mull responded that he was not sure but that it was either in Russia or on a ship bound for Russia.
“Where did it go? It’s gotta be somewhere,” Smith said.
“It’s on a Russian ship, in Russian custody, under Russian control,” Mull said.
“It’s actually on a ship right now?” Smith said.
“I believe if it has not arrived yet, it will very soon and it will be kept within controlled Russian facilities,” Mull said.
Smith expressed concern that Iran’s nuclear material was being handled without U.S. oversight by a close ally of Iran, Russia.
“But again, we’re then trusting the Russians to say they have it under their purview, they’re watching it. I mean they’re so close to Iran, they have double-dealed us and especially in the Middle East, the Syrians, I don’t know why we would trust them,” Smith said, “Could you tell us where it’s going? I mean, that’s important.”
“That’s a Russian government responsibility to decide where it goes. We do not have concerns about Russian custody of this material. What’s important in this deal is will it go back to Iran?” Mull said. “I can guarantee there are sufficient controls in place that if one piece of dust of that material goes back into Iran, we’re going to be aware of it.”
Ambassador Mull then said that supervising the loading of the uranium was the responsibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and that it subsequently became the Russian government’s responsibility.
“That is a flaw in my opinion,” Smith said.
While the Obama administration has insisted that the verification measures of the Iran nuclear deal are more than adequate to detect cheating by the Iranian regime, experts have pointed to aspects of the deal that call this contention into question. Iran is permitted 24 days to stall inspections of suspected nuclear facilities, which former IAEA deputy director Olli Heinonen said was sufficient time to cover up certain nuclear activities.