US Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Norway’s foreign minister, Børge Brende, on Tuesday for assisting in the transport of 60 tons of natural uranium to Iran, for use in its nuclear power plants. In return, Iran relinquished 11 tons of enriched uranium for transport out of Iran, to Russia.
The enriched uranium could, “in the worst case” have been used in nuclear weapons, Brende told reporters at a press conference in Oslo on Tuesday. Under terms of an agreement struck with five key members of the UN Security Council (the US, the UK, Russia, China, France and Germany), Iran will limit and has allowed monitoring of its atomic program. The UN thus agreed to drop sanctions against Iran.
Norway contributed to the swap of natural uranium for enriched uranium and helped fund and provide transport of the natural uranium from Kazakhstan to Iran. The enriched uranium was handed over and is now on its way to Russia. Six experts from the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (Statens strålevern) verified and monitored the transport on December 27.
Brende called the concrete Norwegian support for the Iran agreement “disarmament and non-profileration in practice” that should help stabilize regional development in the Middle East.
Ola Harbitz, director of Statens strålevern, confirmed there was no problem finding Norwegians willing to work on the historic transport project in the midst of annual Christmas holidays. “The work we just did is preventative and good,” Per Strand of the agency, state broadcaster NRK. “It absolutely felt like we were contributing to something important.”