Arak Reactor Redesign Nearly Complete

Arak Reactor Redesign Nearly CompleteArak Reactor Redesign Nearly Complete

Iran's nuclear chief said the redesign of the Arak heavy water reactor, undertaken as part of the curbs Iran agreed to implement in its nuclear program under the historic deal with major powers, is nearly complete.

"The major part of the project to redesign the Arak reactor has been completed, with only [the design of] the core remaining to be completed," Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by IRNA on Tuesday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on nuclear technology in Tehran, Salehi said, "In compliance with JCPOA, a working group comprising Iranian, Chinese and US technicians has convened to discuss the Arak project."

JCPOA stands for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the formal title of the nuclear accord that has been in force since mid-January to scale back Tehran's nuclear work in return for relief from international sanctions.

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

Among the restrictions placed on Iran's nuclear program is the call to redesign and reconstruct the Arak reactor to reduce its output of plutonium, which can be used to develop nuclear weapons.

Tehran has consistently denied the claim its nuclear program may have been meant to develop a nuclear bomb, saying it was 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, a related document signed by all JCPOA parties was published.

***Roles of Participants

The document said all the six nations are required to contribute to the project in a working group established after consultations with Iran and co-chaired by the US and China.

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

The United States provides technical support and review of the modernized reactor design, as well as analysis of fuel design and safety standards, to ensure it conforms to the key attributes and characteristics of the modernized reactor as set forth in the JCPOA.

Iran has taken the leadership role as the owner and project manager, and has responsibility for development of a schedule and overall implementation of the project.

According to the document, the Arak modernization project encompasses a wide range of activities that include, but are not limited to, overall implementation efforts, design of the modernized reactor and subsidiary laboratories, fuel fabrication and qualification, application for and issuance of licenses, and construction and operation of the reactor and subsidiary laboratories.

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