The U.S. House of Representatives signaled its displeasure with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement on Wednesday through passage of a measure obstructing White House plans to purchase surplus heavy water from Iran.
Over White House objections and a veto threat, the House measure passed 249-176, largely along party lines.
Seen as a rebuke to the White House near the one-year anniversary of reaching the historic agreement with the Islamic state, the measure halts the Obama Administration’s April announcement the U.S. Department of Energy would buy 32 tons of Iranian heavy water for slightly over $8 million.
Heavy water is a crucial building block in the development of a nuclear weapon. Containing a higher concentration of the hydrogen isotope deuterium, it is used to moderate the activity of neutrons to create a reaction to uranium.
Under the landmark agreement concluded in July 2015 and implemented three months later in October, Iran is required to sell excess heavy water and is prohibited to possess over 130 tons of the material while it completes the Arak nuclear power plant. Iran is not allowed to exceed 90 tons of heavy water once the facility becomes active.
Many conservatives including Congressional GOP leadership considers the purchase of Iranian heavy water a mere subsidy to the country’s nuclear ambitions.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, defended the legislation on Wednesday, stating: “(The bill) would deter Iran from producing heavy water by making its sale more difficult.”
[RT News] [govtrack.us] [Photo courtesy voanews.com]