Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed legislation prohibiting the Obama administration from purchasing heavy water from Iran.  In April, the administration agreed to pay $8.6 million for 32 metric tons of heavy water.  Passing today’s legislation, No 2H2O from Iran Act (H.R. 5119), will ensure U.S. taxpayers aren’t subsidizing Iran’s production of this sensitive material.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

I rise in support of H.R. 5119, which would prohibit the United States from sending millions of dollars to Iran – the number one state sponsor of terrorism – to purchase heavy water. 

Heavy water is essential to the production of weapons-grade plutonium. While this relatively rare chemical is not radioactive, it has long been tightly controlled due to its use as coolant in heavy water nuclear reactors. These are the types of reactors which experts call a “plutonium bomb factories.”

During the Second World War, the fall of Norway and its heavy water plant to the Nazis created a very real risk that Hitler would win the race to build the bomb. In response, the Allies launched several daring commando raids and hundreds of bombers in what was ultimately a successful effort to prevent the Nazis from using heavy water to develop weapons-grade plutonium.

Fast forward several decades and the Obama Administration’s nuclear agreement does not limit Iran’s ability to produce heavy water. This is one of the agreement’s many flaws.

Instead the deal allows Iran to possess a small amount of heavy water for its newly legitimized nuclear program and requires Iran to ship any excess heavy water that it produces out of the country. 

While this deeply flawed deal allows Iran to sell its excess heavy water on the international market, it does not require the United States to buy Iran’s excess heavy water. 

And if there are no buyers?  Then Iran would have to comply with the limits on its heavy water possession by suspending production. Or it can also dilute any excess heavy water that it currently possesses.

Let me be clear—despite false claims—enacting this legislation would not cause the United States or Iran to violate the nuclear deal. But it would prevent the Administration from going above and beyond the agreement to deliver Iran financial rewards that were never part of the agreement. 

That’s one of the reasons why the Obama Administration’s purchase of 28 metric tons of heavy water from Iran is so concerning.

And purchases like this only subsidizes and incentives Iran’s continued production of this sensitive material that plays an essential role in the production of weapons-grade plutonium. As respected nonproliferation expert David Albright has said:  “We shouldn’t be paying [Iran] for something they shouldn’t be producing in the first place.” 

Mr. Speaker, this bill is simple. It prohibits U.S. purchases of heavy water from Iran, preventing U.S. tax dollars from subsidizing this rogue regime.

I thank the author, Mr. Pompeo, for his work and urge all members to support this bill.