China Criticized for Arak Reactor Project Delay

China Criticized for Arak Reactor Project Delay China Criticized for Arak Reactor Project Delay

China's delay in implementing its commitments under a cooperation agreement to redesign and rebuild the Arak heavy water reactor will fail to achieve its intended goal of securing concessions from Iran, a lawmaker said.

As part of the historic nuclear pact Iran clinched with major powers a year ago, China and the United States are to help reconstruct the Arak facility.

"As a party to the [Arak] project, the Chinese are required to cooperate with Iran in the redesign of the reactor. However, while Iran has already begun to implement its own side of the deal, China has failed to do so," Valiollah Nanvakenari also told ICANA on Friday.

Nanvakenari, who is also a member of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, underlined the importance of the Islamic Republic sticking to its unyielding position to eliminate the delusion that such attempts can be used to strike a harder bargain with Iran.

"Iran should develop its peaceful nuclear technology to deter others from using pressure to wring concessions from it," he said.

China and the US, along with four other major powers, namely France, Britain, Russia and Germany, negotiated the accord with Iran.

Formally titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the agreement came into effect in January to provide sanctions relief in return for temporary curbs on Tehran's nuclear program.

Among the curbs is the call to reconfigure the Arak reactor, converting it into a facility that produces less plutonium, which could be used to build a nuclear bomb.

Iran has consistently denied its nuclear program may have been aimed at developing nuclear weapons, saying it was and is for civilian purposes only.

A joint "statement of intent" was released by Tehran, Washington and Beijing on Oct. 18, 2015, to announce cooperation on the Arak modernization project and, shortly afterward, the three signed a related document.

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran announced around the middle of last month that the three would hold a trilateral meeting in the coming weeks to coordinate their cooperation.

***Dependence Creates Obstacles

"Authorities should note that whenever we depended on other countries, they raised obstacles for us," Nanvakenari said, adding that it is vital that Iranian diplomats hold a decisive stance in negotiations with China that will be compelled to immediately quit stalling the Arak redesign project.

Officials have repeatedly complained about the delay on China's side in launching the cooperation project, with some even floating the idea that Iran could consider finding an alternative to Beijing.

Days after the AEOI's announcement, another member of the commission, Alireza Rahimi, said, "It is likely that another country will replace China in the cooperation project."

Lawmaker Ezzatollah Yousefian described Beijing as an "unreliable" partner, citing its poor past record.

"China might have close political relations with us, but it has had a poor performance in implementing its commitments under bilateral agreements so far."