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Iran Says It Finds "Unexpectedly High Uranium Reserve"

While we await for the Russian secret service to leak photos of Iran's Revolutionary Guard in Syria, thereby stirring the pot on the latest and greatest proxy war in the middle east, one which would promptly disintegrate any last remaining shred of "victory" from Obama's alleged coup in restoring relations with an Iran which couldn't even wait for the signing of the "Nuclear" deal before turning its back on Obama and siding with Putin in Syria, we were particularly amused to learn that just yesterday Iran announced it has discovered an unexpectedly high reserve of uranium and will soon begin extracting the radioactive element at a new mine.

This stunning admission was made by the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said on Saturday, just 48 hours after the Iran Nuclear deal squeezed through the US Senate with the tiniest of margins.

Far less stunning, if quite more humorous was Reuters' tongue-in-cheek remark that "the comments cast doubt on previous assessments from some Western analysts who said the country had a low supply and sooner or later would need to import uranium, the raw material needed for its nuclear program."

Any indication Iran could become more self-sufficient will be closely watched by world powers, which reached a landmark deal with Tehran in July over its program. They had feared the nuclear activities were aimed at acquiring the capability to produce atomic weapons - something denied by Tehran.

If yesterday's news is any consolation, all those who warned Iran was merely playing possum and that any concerns its resources were dwindling, was a fabrication meant to finally pass a deal years in the making.

And while Iran did announce that it would no longer need to import foreign Uranium, it did not felt the need to expand on the quality or quantity of the discovery: Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted by state news agency IRNA: "I cannot announce (the level of) Iran's uranium mine reserves. The important thing is that before aerial prospecting for uranium ores we were not too optimistic, but the new discoveries have made us confident about our reserves."

What we do know is that Salehi said uranium exploration had covered almost two-thirds of Iran and would be complete in the next four years.

The fear of course, is that while uranium can be used for civilian power production and scientific purposes, it is also a key ingredient in nuclear weapons. And now that Iran has been given a carte blanche to extract and process it as it sees fit (just like Wall Street it was told to police itself, please), concerns are that it will do just that.

The U.S. State Department has been clear in that it would maintain some supervision, saying any new reserves of uranium discovered in Iran will be under the same monitoring as existing mines under the nuclear agreement. "Any violation of that commitment would be met with the appropriate response,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

However, it remains to be seen how effective, if at all, outside policing can be. As Reuters adds, after decades of effort, Iran - which has consistently said its program is for peaceful purposes - has achieved a full nuclear fuel cycle, ranging from the extraction of uranium ore to enrichment and production of fuel rods for nuclear reactors.

Sanctions on companies taking part in Iran's uranium mining industry will be lifted when the agreement is implemented.

 

Salehi said uranium extraction was set to begin at a new mine in the central province of Yazd, according to IRNA.

One of the key drivers for a rapid deal was the claim by some Western analysts have previously said that Iran was close to exhausting its supply of yellowcake - or raw uranium - and that mining it domestically was not cost-efficient.

A report published in 2013 by U.S. think-tanks Carnegie Endowment and the Federation of American Scientists said the scarcity and low quality of Iran's uranium resources compelled it "to rely on external sources of natural and processed uranium".

 

It added: "Despite the Iranian leadership's assertions to the contrary, Iran's estimated uranium endowments are nowhere near sufficient to supply its planned nuclear program."

 

Iran has repeatedly denied overseas media reports that it has tried to import uranium from countries like Kazakhstan and Zimbabwe.

As it turns out, Iran wasn't lying: it was merely waiting for just the right moment to announce to the world it had "just discovered an unexpectedly high uranium reserve."