As part of the nuclear deal, which was reached in July this year, Iran promised to submit 11 tonnes of enriched uranium to third party states. With the enriched uranium on its way Russia, Norwegian engineers took on the task of overseeing transport of the replacement low-enriched radioactive metal to Iran, having been requested to do so by US Foreign Secretary John Kerry.
“We were asked to do this because of our support for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and our expertise in the area,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende said at a press conference.
Norwegian authorities also worked at Fukushima after the Japanese nuclear power plant went into meltdown following the 2011 tsunami.
Iran has taken delivery of 60 tonnes of natural uranium, which will be used as fuel for its nuclear power programme.
Enriched uranium can “in the worst case” be used to build nuclear weapons, said Brende.
In return for giving up its enriched uranium, Iran will also see a string of international economic sanctions lifted.
The Norwegian contribution to the exchange includes finance as well as overseeing transport of the natural uranium by air from Kazakhstan to Iran – an “important piece of the nuclear deal puzzle,” according to Brende.
Six members of Norway's state radiation authority (Statens strålevern) verified and oversaw the transportation of the nuclear fuel.
“We were on the flight to Iran, and when we arrived we met the Iranian authorities and IAEA, so that the enriched Iran could be transported out. It had to be done simultaneously,” Per Strand of Statens strålevern told broadcaster NRK.
“The work we have done is preventive, and that's good. It certainly feels as though we are making an important contribution,” said Strand.
“It has not been a problem convincing anyone to take on the work over Christmas,” he added.