Meanwhile, the U.S. ships fired warning shots toward Iranian fast-attack vessels that were closing in on U.S. ships and refused to slow down.
Russia is sending a large shipment of natural uranium to Iran in exchange for an Iranian shipment to Russia of nuclear reactor coolant. The shipment of 116 metric tons (130 tons) was approved by the United States and the five other countries involved in orchestrating the nuclear deal with Iran.
United Nations Security Council approval of the shipment is expected soon as a formality.
The shipment is enough to make more than 10 simple nuclear bombs, according to David Albright, an expert with the Institute of Science and International Security, “depending on the efficiency of the enrichment process and the design of the nuclear weapon.”
Two senior diplomats leaked the information to the Associated Press under the condition of anonymity and said they were not authorized to discuss details of the program.
The Iranian shipment is legal under the terms of the nuclear deal and will be “subject to the careful monitoring and inspections that are included in the deal to ensure that Iran is living up to the commitments that they made,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
An upcoming conference this week of representatives from Iran, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany in Vienna will focus on alleged violations of the nuclear deal by the United States, following Iranian complaints.
Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama sold the nuclear deal to the American people on the understanding that the deal would make it more difficult, rather than easier, for Iran to build nuclear weapons.
At the same time as receiving huge Iranian shipments while complaining about alleged U.S. violations of the nuclear deal, the Iranian navy has come close to combat with U.S. ships in international waters in the Straits of Hormuz.
Iranian fast attack vessels closed in rapidly to a U.S. destroyer on Sunday and ignored repeated warnings to slow down. This forced the destroyer to fire three warning shots at the Iranian ships.
The Iranian vessels came within 900 yards of the ship according to U.S. Defense officials.
“This was an unsafe and unprofessional interaction, and that is due to the fact that they were approaching at a high level of speed with weapons manned and disregarding repeated warnings,” Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, told media.
EDITORS NOTE: The featured image of a nuclear reactor is for illustrative purposes only. Photo: © Reuters.