The Mikhail Dudin left Iran in late December and is making her way to Russia after passing through the Suez and the Strait of Gibraltar, AIS data shows.
Iran’s low enriched uranium loaded on-board the Mikhail Dudin is over half-way to St. Petersburg, mapped locations from AIS data reported by Marine Traffic confirms. The Belize flagged vessel has been running between 9-10 knots since leaving Bushehr on 28 December 2015. Given current speed and location, the vessel should arrive in Russia within 10 days.
The loading and departure of the vessel which carries 25,000 pounds worth of Iran’s nuclear material, represents a major milestone in the nuclear deal agreed to last July. The material on-board, assessed to be the closest to bomb-making quality at 20% purity, is approximately 96 percent of Iran’s stockpile.
Under the deal, Iran is able to keep an estimated 660 pounds, (or 300 kilograms), of low-enriched uranium, a quantity small enough that Iranian engineers would find difficult to produce a weapon.
Beyond the removal of enriched uranium, Iran also agreed to reduce the number of its centrifuges for a ten year period, down to 6,000 from the reported 20,000. According to experts, that should make Iran’s ‘breakout time,’ should it choose to renege on the deal, closer to a year.
The latest tracking information of the Mikhail Dudin, approximately 61 nautical miles south of Lisbon, comes almost a week after Iran’s “Implementation Day” and the lifting of economic sanctions.
In the past, the vessel has often been tasked with nuclear materials carriage as was noted prominently in 2013 and 2014 by the Norwegian press. In both instances, it was observed making a port call at the Atomflot docks in Murmansk. There, Russia has its primary import site for containers with spent nuclear fuel run by the civilian nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet.
The Mikhail Dudin, classified as a general cargo vessel, was built in 1996 and was named for Mikhail Aleksandrovich Dudin, a Soviet writer and poet who died in 1994. In 2011, the 90m x 13m vessel was modified to carry irradiated fuel casks, according to public reports.
Offiziere will continue monitoring the vessel as she journeys on to St. Petersburg. Follow our twitter account for future updates.