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Modernization of Arak reactor underway: Iran

January 12, 2016 at 12:14 pm

The modernization of Iran’s Arak heavy water research reactor is underway, the country’s media reported on Monday.

“One of our undertakings in the nuclear deal [with P5+1 group] is to redesign the Arak reactor,” Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister for American and European Affairs said, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.

“Part of the work is being carried out by Iranian experts and a new reactor is scheduled to be designed and installed there,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announced Monday that it has begun preliminary works for removing the core of the Arak nuclear reactor, but this has not been completed yet, according to Iranian Republic News Agency (IRNA).

The Arak heavy water production plant plays an important role in Iran’s nuclear disarmament under the nuclear agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The plan was signed on July 14, 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 countries — the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, China plus Germany.

Arak’s redesign is vital since fuel spent from a heavy water reactor contains plutonium which can be used to develop a nuclear bomb.

Under the JCPOA, Tehran has agreed to redesign Arak, based on an approved design by the world powers. Iran also consented not to build any other heavy water reactors or accumulate heavy water for the next 15 years. Additionally the country will only be allowed to use fuel enriched up to a maximum of 3.67 percent, which is way lower than the level necessary to make a nuclear bomb.

The EU concluded drawing up an official document on the modernization of Iran’s heavy water research reactor on Nov. 22, 2015.

Meanwhile, China is to participate in the design and construction of the modernized reactor, while the U.S. will provide technical support and review the modernized reactor design.

France, the U.K. and Germany will participate in design review, in addition to supplying equipment and providing training on safety and security measures, while Russia will provide consultative services and expertise.

A Joint Commission, coordinated by the EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, is expected to complete a review on the Arak reactor as a final step.

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