Timeline for Modernization of Arak Reactor

Timeline for Modernization of Arak ReactorTimeline for Modernization of Arak Reactor

The redesign of Arak heavy water reactor that Iran undertook as part of its commitments under the nuclear deal will be accomplished in under three years, the spokesperson of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said.

The deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, went into force on Saturday after the UN nuclear agency certified in a report that Tehran fulfilled its commitments to scale down its nuclear program in return for sanctions relief.

One of the preconditions for the action plan to take effect was removing the core of the reactor and filling it with concrete, an initial step in the redesign process.

Iran, the US and China released a joint "statement of intent" on Oct. 18 to announce their cooperation on the Arak modernization project and, shortly afterward, signed a document in this connection.

Under the agreement, Iran assumed the leadership role as the owner and manager of the Project for Modernization of the Arak Reactor and took on the responsibility of preparing a schedule for the implementation of the project.

  Cooperation With China

"We have submitted a preliminary design to China and are waiting for feedback. If the design is confirmed during Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to Iran, we will begin to develop the final design, which will be completed in one year. The ensuing operational phase will take one and a half years," Behrouz Kamalvandi was quoted as saying by IRNA on Monday.

"The construction of a reactor normally takes about three years, but we believe the redesign of the Arak reactor will be over in less than three years."

International parties to JCPOA, known as P5+1 (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany), are required to contribute to the project in a working group co-chaired by the US and China, which was to be established following consultations with Iran.

China participates in the design and construction of the modernized reactor and as the primary liaison between the working group and Iran, it will facilitate communications between them in the course of the project's implementation.

Kamalvandi said official documents have been prepared on the Arak reactor to be signed with Beijing on Friday, when Xi arrives in Tehran for a two-day visit.

China's ambassador in Tehran, Pang Sen, said in an interview with ISNA on Sunday that his country previously presented a proposal on the Arak project.

"The proposal ensures the Arak reactor remains a heavy water facility and helps build confidence between Iran and P5+1. The P5+1 working group has already been set up," Pang said.